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3 May, 2015

Britain’s richest see their wealth rocket during recession

LONDON, April 26 (Xinhua) — Just days after it was reported more than a million Britons have had to turn to food banks to feed their families, the long-awaited rich-list for 2015 published Sunday reveals Britain’s wealthy have become even richer.

Recession, what recession, screamed London’s Sunday Times (ST) as it reported how the 1,000 wealthiest people in Britain have “powered through the economic crisis”.

The ST, which complies the list every year, said the latest list shows those with money were more than twice as rich as they were in 2009 when the British economy was on the rocks.

Those 1,000 occupants of the Rich List have a combined wealth of 873 billion U.S. dollars, boosted by the booming stock market which has seen both the FTSE 100 and America’s Dow Jones Industrial Average hit new heights this year.

There are now 117 sterling billionaires in Britain, more than in any other country apart from China and America. London, though, is home to 80 billionaires, more than in any other world capital city. The United States has 384 sterling billionaires and China 158, with India in fourth place with 61.

The wealth gap between London and the rest of Britain has, says the ST, become a chasm. Most of the nation’s super rich are entrepreneurs and financiers, with London also a magnet for music and movie stars, entertainers, as well as sport and fashion icons.

Topping the list as Britain’s richest man, and up four places from last year is Ukraine-born Len Blavatnik who has made his fortune now standing at 20 billion dollars, from music, media and industry.

The average Briton, earning 30,000 dollars a year, would, reports the ST, have to work for more than 500,000 years to match Blavantik’s fortune.

Blavatnik unseated business brothers Sri and Gopi Hinduja from top spot. They nudged into second, despite their fortune rising to 19.7 billion dollars.

Galen and George Weston and their family, who run a retail empire including the world-famous Selfridges store and discount high street retailer and Primark, saw their wealth soaring by 5.6 billion dollars to almost 17 billion dollars. It took them from 11th spot last year to number three this year.

Slipping down the list this year is Queen Elizabeth, who for the first time has left the list for the top 300 wealthiest Britons. Although the Queen’s wealth this year increased by 15 million dollars to 516 million dollars her place in the list has been overtaken by some of her wealthier subjects.

Even the “poorest” rich, propping up the list need a wealth of around 150 million dollars to make the top 1,000.