A report by Oxfam, a leading international charity, has warned about the richest five families in Britain being wealthier than 12.6m of the poorest Brits. But Oxfam’s claims seem to miss some important analysis behind this trend and what it actually means for the British economy.
Here is some information on each of the families concerned that the Oxfam press release didn’t contain:
• David and Simon Reuben (£6.9bn) – Made an enormous amount of money investing in the Russian Metal Market after the fall of the Soviet Union. This money has in part been relocated to Britain, helping the British balance of payments.
• The Hinduja Brothers (£6bn) – Their family business was first established in Mumbai but later moved to Iran. In 1979, after the Shah was overthrown, the pair moved to London, once again bringing vast foreign wealth and a huge number jobs to the British capital.
• Mike Ashley (£3.3bn) – Founded Sports Direct in 1982, which now has 500 stores and employs 24,000 people. It is the UK largest sporting retailer, but Ashley started it on his own in Maidenhead after having to give up a career in Squash due to an injury.
• The Grosvenor Family/The Duke of Westminster (£7.9bn) – The family happen to be lucky enough to own 190 acres of Belgravia. This is property they have owned for multiple generations and – being in one of the most expensive parts of London – any wealth generated is merely being transferred from other wealthy individuals, many of whom are from overseas.
• The Cadogan Family/The Earl of Cadogan (£4bn) – Also lucky enough to have inherited property in a wealthy part of London, in this case Chelsea and Knightsbridge. The average residential property in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea goes for £1.5m, with terrace houses averaging at a whopping £3.3m.
The families that Oxfam highlight may be ‘super-rich’ but they are hardly parasitical. The list contains: two families who rent properties to rich Arabs and Russians, a man who built a major British company and two sets of brothers who have brought significant foreign wealth to the UK.
So what does Oxfam propose to do with these people? Perhaps the Reubens should take their money back to Russia, or the Hindujas back to Iran? Was Mike Ashley wrong to aspire to employ 24,000 people? Should he shut up shop, or be taxed out of incentives to grow his businesses, or even more them out of the country?
And how does attacking these families and their businesses help anyone, especially those at the bottom of society who are struggling?
As Thatcher once said of the left, they “would rather the poor were poorer, provided the rich were less rich“.