LONDON (AFP) - London has more billionaires than any other city in the world, and Britain has more billionaires per head of population than any other country, new data showed on Saturday.
The survey of Britain’s super-rich compiled for the Sunday Times newspaper is likely to prompt debate in a country where many still struggle financially and where food banks are a fact of life, despite economic growth recently returning to levels not seen since the 2008 financial crash.
London is home to 72 of Britain’s 104 sterling billionaires, well ahead of Moscow in second place with 48 people worth the equivalent of 1 billion pounds or more. New York is in third place with 43 billionaires, San Francisco in fourth place with 42, Los Angeles next with 38 and Hong Kong in sixth place with 34.
Indian-born brothers Sri and Gopi Hinduja top the British list with a fortune of 11.9 billion pounds (S$25 billion), amassed through the family-owned Hinduja Group, which has interests in oil, banking, the automotive industry, property and the media.
The pair nudged last year’s top of the billionaire list, Alisher Usmanov, to second place. The Uzbekistan-born Russian’s fortune has been hit by the fall in value of the rouble and Russian stock prices due to the Ukraine crisis.
Others in the top 25 include Ukrainian-born internet, chemicals and music industry investor Len Blavatnik in fourth place, property magnate the Duke of Westminster, Gerald Grosvenor, in tenth place, and Saudi-born Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber and his family, known for their hotel and resort investments, in thirteenth place.
This year is the first year the minimum wealth of Britain’s 50 richest people has topped 1.5 billion pounds. Only 700 million pounds was needed to join the exclusive club a decade ago.
Britain’s 104 billionaires have a total wealth of 301.13 billion pounds, compared to 88 a year ago with a combined worth of 245.66 billion pounds.
The combined wealth of Britain’s super-rich is now well ahead of pre-recession levels of 2008, which then totalled 201.99 billion pounds.
On Friday independent thinktank the National Institute of Economic and Social Research said British per-capita gross domestic product - often used to indicate a population’s average wealth - was “well below” the pre-2008 peak, and unlikely to exceed it before 2017.
The Trussell Trust, Britain’s largest food bank network, said the number of people that had approached them for emergency food had risen 163 per cent in the year to the end of March to just over 913,000 people.
The group labelled the figure “shocking", particularly as it does not include those helped by other food providers or the large number of people too ashamed to seek help and who cope by eating less food.