Household wealth rises despite recession but pensions neglected

Julian Harris
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BRITONS’ household wealth continued to grow between 2006-08 and 2008-10, but official figures revealed yesterday that nearly two thirds of people are failing to put any money into a private pension.

Total household wealth – which includes property wealth, funds from pensions, and other financial assets – grew by 12.9 per cent to £10.3 trillion between 2006-08 and 2008-10, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) announced.

The rise “was mainly down to an increase in pension wealth,” the report said, yet also revealed that a huge number of people are not saving for their own retirements.

Across the UK, “64 per cent of people were not paying in to a private pension in 2008-10, with 42 per cent of adults having no private pension savings at all,” it said.

Furthermore, the figures revealed wide variations in the distribution of wealth. Regionally, wealth was, on average, highest in the south east of the country. The average level of total wealth for a household in the south east was over half a million pounds (£562,000) in 2008-10.

In the north east of England, by comparison, the mean level of wealth was £322,000, while for the UK the average was £418,000.

The top 10 per cent of households held 43.7 per cent of total household wealth (at £4.5 trillion) in 2008-10 the figures showed. Yet this proportion was slightly down on the 43.9 per cent of household wealth that the top 10 per cent held in 2006-08.

“The wealth of the very rich is growing at an ever-increasing rate, even as the economy sinks into double dip recession,” the TUC’s Brendan Barber complained. Yet Sam Bowman from the Adam Smith Institute said inequality “is a result of regional differences in the cost of living... and if we want to cut it we should be fighting corporate welfare and cutting taxes for the poor.”