According to “the Sunday Times Rich List” published in April, the number of billionaires in Britain now stands at a record 88—up from 77 last on year. The combined wealth of the richest 1,000 UK residents is now hurtling toward half a trillion pounds (£450 billion), an increase of £35 billion on the previous year. The affluence of the top 200 richest residents in Britain and Ireland amounts to an incredible £320 billion.
Taken together, these figures are official confirmation that the super-rich have more than bounced back from any setbacks they amassed in the aftermath of the global financial downfall of 2008.
While the wealthy elite swim in luxury, the rest of us are being driven towards deep poverty. A joint report released Oxfam and Church Action on Poverty found that the number of people in Britain no longer able to afford food and turning to food banks has soared in the last year. The report, “Walking the Breadline”, estimates that 500,000 people across the UK used food banks in 2012, more than double the figure from the previous year.
“Figures from the Trussell Trust, the biggest network of food banks in the Britain, reveal that cuts and changes to the welfare system are the most common reason for people resorting to food banks”.
The report concludes, “There is a real risk that the benefit cuts and the introduction of universal credit [an amalgamated lower value welfare benefit]…will lead to even larger numbers being forced to turn to food banks”.