The startling extent of wealth disparity in the UK has been revealed in a new report, which shows the five richest families in the country are worth as much as the poorest 13 million people.
The billionaires have a combined fortune of £39.4bn (NZ$78 billion), according to analysis by the Equality Trust. That immense figure is more than the assets of 13.2 million other Britons.
The study also found that the richest one percent of people in the UK own the same amount of wealth as 80 percent of the population (53 million people).
The report was based on wealth estimates by Forbes and Credit Suisse.
The billionaires who topped the list were the brothers Gopichand and Srichand Hinduja, who own a raft of businesses including banks and car companies and have a combined wealth of £12.8 billion (NZ$25.5 billion). They were followed by James Ratcliff, the chief executive of a chemicals company who has wealth worth £9.2 billion (NZ$18.3 billion); hedge fund manager Michael Platt, worth £6.1 billion (NZ$12.1 billion); and property developers David and Simon Reuben, each worth £5.7 billion (NZ$11.3 billion).
Wanda Wyporska, executive director of the Equality Trust, says the study shows how the system is broken.
"This report should shock anyone who cares about the state of the UK today," she said. "Such a huge gap between the very rich and the vast majority of the country is dangerous. Such extreme wealth in the hands of so few people demonstrates just how broken the economic system is."
According to the trust, a fifth of the UK's population, 14 million people, live in poverty, while 4 million of those people live more than 50 percent below the poverty line.
"Behind the numbers, the UK's extreme inequality is the story of Ferraris and foodbanks. Families across the country are working for their poverty and unable to promise their children a better, secure future. The rich live longer and their children get the best education, the best jobs and a leg up on the housing ladder. The UK's economy delivers billions for a few and poverty for millions.
"Destitution is the sad reality for millions this Christmas."