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Income inequality is one of the biggest issues facing the world today. There is not a nation on Earth that is not affected by it in some way or another. The United Kingdom is currently facing a food crisis of national proportions with hundreds of thousands having to access emergency shelter food. Income inequality is also driving a wedge deeper and deeper in the British economy, making daily life even more difficult for working class families.

According to a study that was published by the charity organization Oxfam, the United Kingdom’s richest .1% have had their own personal incomes grow by over four times what the lowest 90% of Britain’s population have. Oxfam’s study used Forbe’s latest list of billionaires, and goes on to say that the United Kingdom’s five richest families have a total worth of over 28.2 billion pounds while the lowest 20% of the United Kingdom’s population only accumulated 28.1 billion pounds.

The Duke of Westminster topped the list of the top richest families in the United Kingdom. Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor is worth over 7.9 billion pounds and owns over 100 acres in London and Belgravia. The second highest were the Reuben brothers who are deal in extremely profitable metal business deals. Their company Trans World Metals, at its peak, controlled over 5% of the world aluminum supply. The third family on the list are the Hinduja Brothers who are worth over 6 billion pounds. The Hinduja brothers gained their fortunate by creating the Hinduja Group, which is conglomerate that oversees more than 21 companies that range from banks, to transportation systems, to chemical plants.

The fourth richest family in Britain is the Cadogan Family; the Viscount and Viscountess of Chelsea and their net worth of over 4 billion pounds. The fifth name on the list is Mike Ashley, owner of the prestigious football club Newcastle United who brought up the rear at 3.3 billion pounds.

The wealth that these families have accumulated is both astounding and impressive. However, in 2014 one of the biggest issues to both world leaders and citizens alike is the ever present issue of income inequality. The World Economic Forum declared that income inequality is one of the biggest threats that the world is facing today. Jennifer Blanke, the World Economic Forum’s Chief Economist cited the Arab Spring, as well as recent issues in both Brazil and South Africa as examples of how “…people are not going to stand for it anymore.”

The news that the top five richest families in Britain have accrued as much wealth as the bottom 20% is another piece of the income inequality puzzle that needs to be addressed and examined in a timely manner. The continuing rift between the rich and poor in every country around the world must be a main focus for the world’s leaders in order to take steps to address this issue.

– Arthur Fuller

Sources: The Guardian, The Independent, The Independent, The Guardian
Photo: Salon