The UK’s richest 1,000 residents “kept calm and carried on making billions” amidst the Brexit vote of 2016, according to this year’s Sunday Times Rich List. Their collective wealth rose by £83 billion, a staggering 14 percent over the past year, to a record £658 billion.
The wealth of those on the list is always an underestimation, as it is based on “identifiable” assets and excludes money held in bank accounts.
This year’s list shows an extraordinary concentration of wealth among a few individuals. The top 500 entries have more wealth than last year’s top 1,000. The richest 500 have a combined wealth of £580 billion. In 2016, the top 1,000 richest people held a collective £575 billion.
Nineteen of the very richest increased their wealth by £1 billion or more in the past year. Of those in the top 20, only the Weston family, who still have £10.5 billion, lost money in the last year.
To enter this year’s top 1,000 richest British residents required £110 million, exactly double what was required to qualify for a top 1,000 spot as recently as 2009. With 86 billionaires, London has more than any other city in the world. There are now 134 British-based billionaires, up from 120 in 2016. London Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan spoke of his pride over such numbers.
The richest on the list are the Hinduja brothers, Sri and Gopi, whose wealth comes from property, health care, and oil and gas. The former Labour Party donors increased their fortune to £16.2 billion—up £3.2 billion on 2016.
The Sunday Times Rich List makes clear that workers’ falling wages and living standards are the direct source of enormous and ever-growing wealth for a tiny handful of parasites. Also on the list are Mike Ashley (£2.16 billion), the CEO of Sports Direct, who runs a warehousing and retail operation based on super-exploitation and low wages, and Sir Philip and Lady Green (£2.78 billion) who asset-stripped high street retailer British Home Stores, with many workers losing their pensions.