Inequality widens as elite grow richer

THE gap between the wealthiest and most deprived households in the country has widened dramatically over the past 30 years, according to a report published yesterday.

People in the richest 10 per cent of the population are now more than 100 times better off than those in the poorest 10 per cent, the Anatomy of Economic Inequality in the UK study found. Individuals in the top bracket enjoyed household wealth of more than £853,000, while those in the worst-off category had £8,800 or less.

Researchers said the rift opened significantly under Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government in the 1980s, although it has peaked under Gordon Brown’s administration. By 2007/8 Britain had the highest level of income inequality since the Second World War.

The top one per cent of the population -- including many City financiers and chief executives -- had total household wealth of £2.6m or more.

Professor John Hills of the London School of Economics, who chaired the 16-month project, told City AM the government’s focus on the Square Mile was partly responsible for the divide. “The country was hoping that by tolerating the increase in incomes, the benefits would trickle down through higher economic growth,” he said. “When you look at what the financial system was built on, that becomes a lot more questionable.”