Not even the Recession saw headlines such as “Super-rich hit by slump in fortunes.” The Sunday Times Rich List, which has been reporting the fortunes of the wealthy in the UK for nearly thirty years, has seen a considerable shake up of the seating plan at the top table of the country’s wealthiest.
The Sunday Times Rich List, May, 2014, opened with the words “Just six years after Lehman Bros collapsed, sparking the worst recession since the Great War, the world’s rich have never been richer – and more of them are based in Britain than ever before.“
Now Ten billionaires who were on last year’s List are no longer billionaires. Fortunes affected by global market volatility, falling commodity prices such as that of steel, and the aftermath of a global crisis, have seen the first levelling off of wealth amongst the country’s top 0.001% wealthiest individuals for six years. The fortunes too of many of those in the multimillion pound category have remained static.
London’s billionaire total has fallen for the first time since the financial crisis, although it still can lay claim to more than any other city in the world. While the US remains the country with most billionaires, Britain continues to hold its own in third place with 120 and it must provide some kind of comfort to see the List reckoning that Britain can field at least two people as part of the “50 Richest in the world” team.
Even more comforting to know, that amidst a plethora of fascinating information, the List reveals the philanthropy of Britain’s wealthiest is at an all time high, with 178 people on the List donating at least £1 million each to charity. The asset levels in the hundreds of charities administered by Britain’s 1,000 wealthiest is reckoned to be above £20 billion, distributing £2.66 billion in donations over the past twelve months. Sir Elton John and J.K. Rowling merge as the Nation’s most generous celebrity donors, but it’s nice to see the younger generation playing their part: One Direction gave £843,000 to charitable causes. The List finds giving to be more deeply rooted since beginning to record such donations in 2002.
Art treasures are valued taking into account the huge tax liabilities attached to the sale of such assets and on the assumption that around half the sale proceeds may be lost to taxation. Factored in too, is the depressing effect that could arise from the sale of huge collections flooding the market.
The Sunday Times Rich List was published with The Sunday Times 24 April 2016. It is available online to subscribers.