THE WEALTH gap in Britain has widened dramatically during the pandemic with the richest 10% of the population gaining an extra £50,000 each on average, according to research carried out by the Resolution Foundation.
The think-tank said total UK wealth increased by £900bn to £16.5tn during the course of the pandemic, but this massive increase is confined to the wealthiest and upper middle income brackets.
According to the report, the reason for the sharp increase in the wealth for the already wealthy at a time when the economy is in a state of recession is that wealthy households had little to spend their money on during lockdown.
In addition, they were able to reap the benefits of the sharp increase in house prices, driven by the Tories suspending stamp duty on house purchases.
The richest 10% of the population also benefited from the massive explosion in asset prices on the world stock markets.
While the rich have gotten richer during the pandemic the poorest households were unable to share in either the boom in house prices or the rocketing asset prices.
Instead, what savings they might have had were eaten up just trying to survive as they were furloughed on only 80% of their wages or laid off and forced to rely on Universal Credit (UC) benefits.
Over 700,000 people in the UK, including 120,000 children, have been plunged into poverty as a result of the economic crisis, according to a report last year by the Legatum Institute, pushing the total number of those living in poverty to over 15 million.
According to the Resolution Foundation, the average working class family only managed to ‘save’ an extra £86 a year during the pandemic while adults in the richest 10% now have wealth of £1.4 million each!
Jack Leslie, a senior economist at the think-tank said: ‘The rising wealth gaps that marked pre-pandemic Britain have been turbo-charged by the crisis.
‘With policymakers facing many tough decisions in the autumn – from protecting households as unemployment rises to paying for a decent system of social care – they can no longer afford to ignore the dominant role wealth is playing in 21st-century Britain.’
The Tories are not ignoring the wealth gap, on the contrary, they are determined to increase it and drive workers even further into poverty.
Mubin Haq, chief executive of Standard Life Foundation which supported the report, said: ‘The rise in wealth for those at the bottom has been paltry even taking into account the £20 a week increase in Universal Credit payments to those on the lowest incomes. Wednesday’s announcement of the cut to UC risks further widening the wealth divide which ballooned during the pandemic.’
Not a risk but a certainty.
Tory multi-millionaire Chancellor Rishi Sunak last week claimed that cutting £20 a week in benefits to over six million people is the ‘right way to help people’ – using poverty to force them back into work.
Six million families who rely on Universal Credit will be forced to choose between feeding their children or paying the rent, while the richest 10% wallow in £1.4 million each.
Sunak has made it clear that British capitalism is so weak that it cannot afford even the meagre £20 a week increase in benefit permanently just as it cannot continue to pay furloughed workers indefinitely.
Mass unemployment and starvation for the working class is the only future capitalism holds for workers and young people.
The powerful working class will not sit back and allow itself to be driven back to the poverty and mass unemployment of the ‘hungry thirties’.
Workers must take action and demand that the TUC leaders either fight this Tory war on the working class or be removed and replaced by a leadership that will mobilise an immediate general strike to kick out the Tories and bring in a workers’ government that will expropriate the bosses and bankers and go forward to socialism.
Only by abolishing capitalism can poverty be abolished.
Only the WRP is building the leadership required to advance society to socialism – join today.