#AceUKNews The combined fortunes of Britain’s five richest families are worth more than the poorest 20 percent of the population, says an Oxfam report.
The organization has appealed to the government to take action over the UK’s widening wealth gap.
In a report published on Monday entitled “A Tale of Two Britain’s,” the charity revealed the scope of the UK’s wealth divide. It calculated that Britain’s five richest families have a fortune of £28.2 billion ($46.9 billion), more than the £28.1 billion ($46.7 billion) of the poorest 20 percent of the UK population.
The study also said that over the past two decades the richest 0.1 percent of the population has seen its wealth grow almost four times faster than the 90 percent of population who are considered well-off.
In real terms in means the rich have seen their income rise by £24,000 ($40,000) every year.
The authors of the study said the new figures were “deeply worrying” and indicative of an “economic failure” on the part of the UK government.
“Britain is becoming a deeply divided nation, with a wealthy elite who are seeing their incomes spiral up, while millions of families are struggling to make ends meet,” said Bill Phillips, Oxfams director of campaigns and policy in a statement.
Phillips said the current system had led to a “vicious circle” where the rules are constantly being re-written in favour of the super wealthy.
Topping the list of Britain’s richest is the Duke of Westminster, Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor who has a fortune of £7.9 billion ($13 billion), according to Forbes.
The Duke owns thousands of acres of real estate, including 190 acres in Belgravia, an area adjacent to Buckingham Palace and one of London’s most expensive neighbourhoods.
Second on the list are real estate moguls David and Simon Reuben, with a combined wealth of $11.5 billion.
The Hinduja brothers Srichand and Gopichand come in third place with a fortune of $10 billion.
Bringing up the rear with respective fortunes of $6.9 billion and $5.5 billion, are Charles the 8th Earl of Cadogan,
Then finally reclusive billionaire Michael Ashley.
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The EU will agree the next month to deepen relations with Cuba in the most significant overture to the communist island since the bloc lifted diplomatic sanctions in 2008, Reuters reported, citing its sources. On February 10, foreign ministers from EU countries will give the go-ahead to launch talks with Havana on a special cooperation accord. The pact, aimed at increasing trade, investment and dialogue on human rights, could be agreed by the end of 2015. “Cuba wants capital and the EU wants influence,” said one source involved in the talks.
Gunmen shoot dead influential pro-Taliban cleric in Pakistan
An influential cleric who supported the Afghan Taliban has been shot dead in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta, officials said Thursday. “Two unknown gunmen on a motorcycle” shot dead Maulana Abdullah Zakiri as he was on his way to a mosque Wednesday night,” senior police official Abdul Razzaq told AFP. Zakiri had lived in Quetta for a long time and had no known disputes with anyone. However, his family has accused Afghan intelligence services of his murder.
Egypt to receive up to $4bn more aid from Saudi Arabia – report
Saudi Arabia is expected to give Egypt up to $4 billion in additional aid in the form of central bank deposits and petroleum products, Reuters said. State-run Egyptian newspaper Al Ahram reported Thursday that the package would be worked out during a visit next week to Riyadh by Egypt’s interim prime minister, Hazem el-Beblawi. Funds from Gulf Arab states have kept Egypt’s economy afloat during the recent political turmoil, which has hit investment and tourism hard.
UK to accept vulnerable Syrian refugees – Hague
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Thursday that his country will accept the most vulnerable Syrian refugees this year. Hague said in the Philippine capital, Manila, that the details were still being worked out, did not specify a number of the refugees, AP reported. However, he said that Britain would prioritize displaced Syrians who have been exposed to the horrors of the conflict, including victims of sexual violence.
Bangladesh court sentences top Islamist, 13 others to death for arms smuggling
A Bangladesh court on Thursday sentenced 14 people to death over an arms smuggling racket 10 years ago, AFP reported. Those convicted include the leader of the country’s largest Islamist party, the Jamaat-e-Islami party. “The judge sentenced 14 people including Motiur Rahman Nizami, to death on smuggling charges,”prosecutor Kamal Uddin Ahmed said.
10 killed as mob attacks India village in land dispute
A mob armed with shotguns attacked a remote village in northeast India, killing at least 10 people in a land dispute, police said Thursday. The attackers fired indiscriminately Wednesday evening in Chauldhua village in the densely forested area in northern Assam state, AP reported, citing witnesses. The gunmen came from neighboring Arunachal Pradesh state, police said. The dispute dates back to 1987, when Arunachal Pradesh state was created and the village was declared to be in Assam.
Suicide car bomber kills 2 officers in east Afghanistan
A suicide car bomber has attacked a police facility in the country’s east, killing two officers, AP reported. The attacker targeted a police and intelligence compound in the Nangarhar province’s Pachir Wagam district early on Thursday morning, said Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, a spokesman in the province. Three members of the security forces were injured in the attack. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in an emailed statement.
Johansson breaks with humanitarian group Oxfam over Israeli settlement boycott
Actress Scarlett Johansson has decided to end her eight-year tenure as ambassador for Oxfam International, a prominent group fighting against poverty and injustice, saying she does not endorse the group’s boycott of Israeli settlements in occupied territories. Oxfam opposes all trade with the settlements, saying their existence is illegal and violates Palestinians’ rights. Johansson recently came under fire for signing on as the first global brand ambassador of SodaStream, a company maintaining a large factory in an Israeli settlement in the West Bank.
Latin America and Caribbean to become ‘zone of peace’
The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States bloc has signed a resolution declaring the region a “zone of peace”. The 33 nations thus pledged to resolve regional disputes without the use of force in respect to another. The measure was approved on the final day of a summit of Western Hemisphere nations, minus the United States and Canada.
EU agrees on accord to normalize relations with Cuba – source
EU states have agreed on the “whole package” for a new accord with Cuba aimed at normalizing relations with the communist state and encourage reforms and strengthen the human rights in the country, an EU source told AFP. The text of the agreement will be discussed among EU foreign Ministers next month. The bloc suspended ties with Cuba in 2003 after a crackdown on 75 dissidents, which have all now been released from jail.
#AceNewsServices says ‘A lot of talk about inequality in Davos, but very little action’
There’s not much to be expected from Davos in solving the issue of inequality, while studies show that the rich and powerful use their money to dominate political processes all over the world, Max Lawson, head of advocacy at Oxfam GB, told RT.
On January 20 a report entitled “Working for the Few” was released by Oxfam, an international organization searching for solutions against poverty and injustice. According to this report the world’s 85 wealthiest people have as much money as the 3.5 billion poorest people on the planet – half the Earth’s population. This signifies an extreme economic inequality, which is a serious and warring trend.
Max Lawson doesn’t think we should expect any moves to be made in Davos about it.
“We think there will be a lot of talk about inequality in Davos but very little action. We don’t expect them to do much at all,” Lawson told RT.
What the report has also concluded is that big money often opens political doors for the rich.
“Often those powerful rich people use that money to capture the political process. Our paper has case studies of that happening in countries all over the world, whether it’s Pakistan, whether it’s Tanzania. You see politicians buying politics,” Lawson says.
“The paper shows that it’s definitely a case in the rich OECD countries that politics is being increasingly influenced by rich people. We use the example of the financial deregulation and very low tax rates, where you can see these furious lobbies of the politicians by the richest people in the United States, in Europe, to push for lower taxes, which in turn increases greater inequality because if rich people are not paying tax, then it means inequality goes up,” Lawson added.
Lawson speaks about billionaires like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates who agreed to give away their fortunes as an example of people who are really doing an amazing job to fight global poverty. One of the main tactics, he says, should be support for progressive taxation and fighting tax dodging.
“Warren Buffett has spoken out on this issue of tax dodging and on the fact that rich people pay very low tax rates. I think some of the billionaires in Davos are definitely saying the right thing. We need to see a lot more of them agreeing to a lot more tax so that we are not having a situation that we’ve got. People have more money that they can spend in ten thousand life times, when you are have a billion people living on less than a dollar a day,” Lawson told RT.
There is a lot that can be done on the international level to tackle the issue of the growing inequality, particularly around the issue of tax, tax havens and tax avoidance, Lawson believes.
Screenshot from “Working for the Few” report at oxfam.org
“So you are seeing hundreds of billions of dollars being hidden away in tax havens. This is money that is owned by the richest corporations, the richest people, and that should be taxed. If it was taxed fairly then that money would be spent on health, on education, on decent jobs for ordinary people. So if we saw a crackdown on tax evasion that would make a major difference to inequality.”
According to Lawson, tax dodging is not just a problem in Western countries, it’s a huge problem in Africa. Many of the mining companies, the big investors in Africa, make enormous use of tax havens, he says.
“Africa loses something like $60 billion a year in lost taxes. It’s a major problem for the poorest countries, so it’s not just about Starbucks or Google and Apple, which is important too, but it’s also about all these mining companies, companies operating in Africa that are all avoiding taxes. And every dollar in tax they avoid, that’s a dollar that could be helping put a child in school, could be building a clinic, or hospital or paying for a nurse. We think this tax avoidance is human rights abuse and it needs to stop,” Lawson concluded.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of : RT or Ace News Services
- Oxfam says world’s rich threaten democracy(aljazeera.com)
- World’s rich threaten democracy, says Oxfam in pre-Davos report(dailynewsegypt.com)
- Isn’t It Ironic? The 1% Battles Economic Inequality at a Swiss Resort Gathering(alternet.org)
#AceNewsServices says the world’s 85 wealthiest people have as much money as the 3.5 billion poorest people on the planet – half the Earth’s population. That’s according to Oxfam’s latest report on the risks of the widening gap between the super-rich and the poor.
The report, titled “Working for the Few,” was released Monday, and was compiled by Oxfam – an international organization looking for solutions against poverty and injustice.
A total of 210 people became billionaires last year, joining the existing 1,426 billionaires with a combined net worth of $5.4 trillion.
“Instead of moving forward together, people are increasingly separated by economic and political power, inevitably heightening social tensions and increasing the risk of societal breakdown,” the report stated.
Also, according to the Oxfam data, the richest 1 percent of people across the globe have $110 trillion, or 65 times the total wealth of the bottom half of the planet’s population – which effectively “presents significant threat to inclusive political and economic systems.”
“It is staggering that, in the 21st century, half of the world’s population — that’s three and a half billion people — own no more than a tiny elite whose numbers could all fit comfortably on a double-decker bus,”Oxfam chief executive Winnie Byanyima told a news conference.
And the number of the rich is steadily growing: for example, in India the number of billionaires skyrocketed from six to 61 in the past 10 years, and their combined net worth is currently $250 billion.
Among the solutions presented by Oxfam are measures to avoid tax dodging and using economic wealth to pressure governments, looking for political benefits. Also, the organization calls for “making public all the investments in companies and trusts for which they are the ultimate beneficial owners,” as well as “challenging governments to use tax revenue to provide universal healthcare, education and social protection for citizens.”
Oxfam also said that there are many laws that favour the rich, which were lobbied for in a “power grab” by the world’s wealthiest people.
Since the late 1970’s, tax rates for the richest have fallen in 29 out of 30 countries for which data are available, according to Oxfam.
For instance, almost 80 percent of the Spanish and the Indians, as well as over 60 per cent of the US and the UK residents, either agree or strongly agree that “the rich have too much influence over where this country is headed.”
Following surveys of remote areas, the ship’s helicopter will begin transporting UK humanitarian experts, medical teams and supplies to areas which have yet to receive outside help.
The launch of HMS Daring’s operations comes ahead of the departure later today of the UK Government’s latest aid flight which will leave East Midlands Airport with 95 tons of supplies from the Department for International Development (DFID), Oxfam and Save the Children.
Justine Greening said:
HMS Daring’s arrival is a major boost to DFID’s disaster experts and medical teams already deployed in the Philippines. This Royal Navy vessel will help us open a lifeline and allow us to help many more victims of the disaster.
Regarding the civilian relief flight due to leave East Midlands Airport later today, she added:
More British help is on its way. This latest flight will be full of medical supplies, water tankers and forklifts to get aid moving and help clear bottlenecks at the airports. The British people have shown huge generosity over the past days, and DFID is working with charities to make sure all their donations get to those who need it most.
HMS Daring’s Lynx helicopter has spent three days surveying Panay and other islands near Cebu which have not yet been reached by humanitarian agencies.
At the request of the Department for International Development’s humanitarian field team, the ship will now:
- Transport the UK’s 12-strong medical team: Alongside the ship’s own medical team, they will provide urgent medical assistance on the remote islands. The remaining 6 will go to Tacloban to work alongside the AusAid medical team.
- Load, transport and distribute 500 shelter kits onto previously identified islands.
- Load and transport 10 tonnes of high-energy biscuits to be distributed by Save the Children onto previously identified islands.
- Use its own water filters to fill 1,900 water carriers with clean drinking water across the region.
This is in addition to the ship’s on-board disaster relief pack containing generators and electrical cables, emergency lighting, tools for basic construction, blankets, cutting and drilling equipment, public address systems, emergency shelter, medical items and stretchers. This will enable the ship’s crew to undertake clearance and shelter repair.
The UK Government’s latest aid flight will take more equipment from DFID’s warehouse in Kemble, Gloucestershire. DFID is also making space available to UK charities Oxfam and Save the Children. The cargo will include:
- DFID: 2,500 jerry cans, 1 medical support module, 1 Land Rover Defender, 4 forklifts, 2 fuel tanks;
- Oxfam: Water and sanitation equipment: emergency water module, bladder tanks, water tankers for trucks, water piping, pumps, hoses;
- Save the Children: Medical supplies for the UK medical team already on the ground: newborn health facility, 40 reproductive health kits, 20 clean delivery kit for mothers, 6 emergency obstetric kits, 30 boxes of hospital supplies, drugs and equipment.
In addition, an Antanov aircraft will also leave later today from Amsterdam bound for Cebu carrying heavy lifting equipment.
- Greening hails British public’s ‘huge generosity’ (itv.com)
- HMS Daring arrives in typhoon zone (daventryexpress.co.uk)
- British warship HMS Daring arrives in the Philippines (standard.co.uk)
- Breaking News: HMS Daring arrives in typhoon zone (crosbyherald.co.uk)
- British HMS Daring arrives to provide Philippines Typhoon Haiyan aid (dailymail.co.uk)
Food price spikes caused by extreme weather events like the US drought will become the norm over the next twenty years, leading to millions of deaths from malnutrition among the world’s poorest if Governments do not act on climate change, Oxfam has warned.
While the average price of staple foods is already expected to double in the next twenty years, the UK’s leading poverty charity predicts that separate catastrophes such as droughts, floods and bad harvests will also become more common as a result of climate change, leading to regular and dramatic jumps in prices.
The effect may have already been seen this year, the charity says. A 10 per cent rise in world food prices in July has been blamed on the severest drought in the USA in fifty years, along with dry weather in Eastern Europe and Kenya. Oxfam warned that policymakers have “underestimated” the full impact of climate change on future food prices.
“The huge potential impact of extreme weather events of future food prices is missing from today’s climate change debate,” said the charity’s climate change policy advisor Tim Gore. “Rising temperatures and changing rainfall patterns hold back crop production and cause steady prices rises. But extreme weather events – like the current US drought – can wipe out entire harvests and trigger dramatic food price spikes.”
July was the USA’s hottest month on record, contributing to the warmest 12 month period for the country since records began. Widespread drought has destroyed one sixth of the country’s corn crop and driven up staple food prices worldwide.
Oxfam predicted that future weather events on a similar scale, such as a flood in southern Africa or another drought in North America, could have a catastrophic impact on food prices within the next twenty years. Financial modelling suggested that one or more extreme events in a single year could cause two decades worth of price inflation to occur in a matter of months.
Recently the United Nations urged “swift, coordinated international action” to combat the current price spike, which has seen corn and wheat prices soar by 25 per cent, warning that “even in a good year, global grain production is barely sufficient to meet growing demands for food, feed and fuel.”
Policymakers will wish to avoid a repeat of the food crisis of 2008, where the rising cost of grain, maize, rice and soya led to social unrest and riots in many parts of Africa, South America and Asia. New UN task forces were set up in the wake of the 2008 crisis to co-ordinate the trade, production and aid policies of the world’s governments in the event of another price spike.
In a joint statement, three UN food agencies called on governments to take long-term steps such as investing in agriculture in food importing countries, to safeguard them against future price shocks.
The statement from the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) said that weather had been the driver of each three international food spikes in the past five years.
“Until we find the way to shock-proof and climate-proof our food system, the danger will remain,” the statement said.
The UN statement stopped short of calling an emergency meeting of the Rapid Response Forum, set up in the wake of 2008 crisis. Oxfam said that world leaders were “dragging their feet” and that failure to cut back on greenhouse gas emissions “made a future crisis more likely.”
As more hikes in the price of our everyday essentials will become the norm then companies such as Glencore and others of the same ilk will become the basis of ” profit before people” and people will pay with their pockets first and their lives second!
- Extreme Weather Means Extreme Food Prices Worldwide, Aid Agency Warns (wnyc.org)
- Oxfam warns food prices to soar due to climate change (seeddaily.com)
- Fears UK could face food crisis after bad weather destroys global crops (dailyrecord.co.uk)
- Oxfam warns food prices to soar due to climate change (rawstory.com)
- Survey: More than half of Marylanders say climate change causing harm (times-news.com)
- Improving crop yields in a world of extreme weather events (phys.org)
- Climate change to bring painful food price fluctuations (voicerussia.com)
- Arctic methane release is an ‘economic time bomb’ – study | Nafeez Ahmed (guardian.co.uk)
- Say bye-bye to cheap food (grist.org)