U.K.’s $1.3 Trillion Covid Wealth Gain Went Mostly to the Rich

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Britain’s household wealth surged 900 billion pounds ($1.3 trillion) during the pandemic, and much of that went to the richest people, a study by the Resolution Foundation showed.

The figure is well above the Bank of England’s estimate for how much money consumers accumulated during lockdowns that shut most stores and prevented people from traveling. It adds to evidence of growing wealth and income inequalities.

Typical families in Britain are 7,800 pounds better off now than before the pandemic despite the biggest economic recession in three centuries, the research group said Monday. The richest 10% of families enjoyed the biggest absolute wealth increase -- more than 50,000 pounds. The poorest 30% of adults are just 86 pounds better off.

Soaring property values had the largest impact on wealth, handing disproportionately large gains to property owners. That’s a sharp contrast with the previous four recessions, when house prices declined 22% on average.

U.K.’s $1.3 Trillion Covid Wealth Gain Went Mostly to the Rich

“Not all households have benefited from this unlikely wealth boom,” said Jack Leslie, senior economist at the Resolution Foundation. “The poorest households are more likely to have run down rather than increased their savings, and haven’t shared in Britain’s house price bonanza as they’re less likely to own a home in the first place.”

More data from the report:

  • Households increased nominal savings by about 125 billion pounds and reduced non-credit card debts by 10 billion pounds
  • The richest fifth of households are four times as likely to have increased their savings during the crisis when compared with the poorest fifth
  • Gap between the wealthiest 10% and average households rose by 44,000 pounds
  • The gap between the average and the poorest 10th of households grew by 7,000 pounds

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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