On the Pulse: What should be done about the widening gap between the rich and poor?


The Sunday Times Rich List was released at the weekend.


By David Eggboro

Sunday saw the release of the Sunday Times Rich List, a publication that has come a long way since the inaugural edition which the Queen topped in 1989.

Russian businessman Alisher Usmanov was named the wealthiest person in Britain and Ireland with a fortune of £13.3bn.

This is up on last year’s winning sum of £12.76bn belonging to Lakshmi Mittal, which was principally accrued from his steel production business, ArcelorMittal.

This comparison, as well as the fact that last year the combined wealth of the richest 200 people grew to £289bn, indicates that the rich are getting richer.

This is in sharp contrast to a 12% rise in the number of homeless households with children, which reached 34,080 over the last twelve months. Unemployment figures also hit 2.68m.

SWL took to the streets to gauge opinion of the publication and the levels of wealth and poverty in today’s society.

Veronice, who works in Haringey, knows a lot of people who have gone through redundancy.

“When you know that there are families where there are 13 people living in a two-bedroom flat that seems very unfair, but I also think that everyone should be at work as well,” she said.

Isabel Paget suggested she’d like the rich to pay more tax and that the top rate should increase to 55p.

This goes against the government’s recent reduction of top level tax from 50p to 45p in an attempt to attract and retain big business in the UK.

This was a point appreciated by Wimbledon resident Veronica: “There’s the threat that if we raise tax, people will leave the country.”

The highest British-born person in the list is the Duke of Westminster in eighth place, with £7.8bn from property.

Fiona, a 33-year-old solicitor, commented: “Good for them. Lucky them. I’d swap places.”

But when commenting on recession, she added: “Everything’s been fine – I don’t think anyone’s really noticed a recession to be honest.”

However, housing charity Shelter reported in March that four out of ten families with children have cut down on what they spend on food to help pay for their housing costs in the past year.

Louis Wilson, 23, from Suffolk, was en route to an interview for temporary position as a cleaner at Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Club

He said: “It would be good if wealth was spread out evenly but then I don’t think the system would be able to manage very well.”

Opinions are obviously divided about how to tackle the widening gap between rich and poor.

Some believe it is it as a result of laziness from the poor, while others see it as a society which allows so called ‘fat cats’ to cream off the wealth from the top.

Should the government be doing more to balance the system or does the system benefit those who work hard?

However you look at it, the Queen is still doing ok with a £320m fortune, although at 268th place it looks like she may also be cutting back.

Photo courtesy of Gulustan, with thanks. 

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