2020 list of UK’s richest shows first fall in wealth in decade
LONDON: Britain's wealthiest people have lost tens of billions of pounds in the coronavirus pandemic as their combined annual wealth fell for the first time in a decade, The Sunday Times reported in its Rich List 2020.
The newspaper, which has produced the annual ranking of the country's 1,000 wealthiest people since 1989, found the past two months had resulted in the super rich losing £54 billion (S$93 billion).
More than half of the billionaires in Britain had seen drops in their worth by as much as £6 billion, a fall in their collective wealth unprecedented since 2009 and the financial crisis.
Inventor James Dyson bucked the trend to top the list for the first time, with an estimated wealth of £16.2 billion.
The paper credited his rise from fifth place in 2019 to both the strong performance of his businesses and the plummeting fortunes of other billionaires in the top 10.
The Hinduja brothers, who topped last year's list with a £22 billion fortune, saw among the biggest falls in worth - £6 billion - and are now ranked jointly second with entrepreneurs David and Simon Reuben.
The 2020 list calculated the combined wealth of Britain's super-rich to be £743 billion - £29 billion less than last year.
Its number of billionaires dropped by four to 147 but London remains the billionaire capital of the world, with 89 born, living or with a significant chunk of their assets based in the city.
"The first detailed analysis of the super-rich's finances since the Covid-19 outbreak began will heighten concerns that Britain is entering a deep and long-lasting recession," the Sunday Times said.
It noted at least 63 members of the list, including 20 billionaires, have sought to use a government-run furlough scheme that pays staff up to 80 per cent of their salaries up to £2,500 a month during the crisis.
Ms Carys Roberts, executive director of the Institute for Public Policy Research, told The Sunday Times their use of the taxpayer-funded schemes was highly questionable.
"Why can't they now dip into their own deep pockets instead of asking ordinary families to do so for them?" she said. - AFP