The rise and rise of Britain’s billionaires

That’s a bit rich! With £12.6 billion, the inventor James Dyson is now the fifth wealthiest person in the UK.

Is it wrong to have so much money? There are now a record-breaking 151 billionaires in the UK. Meanwhile, a report has warned that the huge gap between rich and poor is hurting Britain.

What’s happening

One billion pounds is a lot of money — more than most people realise. It takes around 12 days for one million seconds to pass. One billion seconds? That is 31 years.

According to The Sunday Times, which has published its annual Rich List, there are now a record 151 billionaires in the UK.

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Where did they get all of that money?

At the very top of the list are Sri and Gopi Hinduja (worth £22 billion). Their family’s business has invested in lots of different industries, including oil, IT and property.

There are entrepreneurs like James Dyson (worth £12.6 billion). He has invented useful technology, such as bagless vacuum cleaners and airblade hand dryers.

Others have inherited their wealth. Britain’s youngest billionaire is 28-year-old Hughie Grosvenor, the 7th Duke of Westminster (worth £10.1 billion).

Regardless of where the money came from, one thing is certain: the richest people in the UK are getting richer. All together, the 1,000 people on the Rich List are worth a record £771.3 billion.

Is it wrong to be a billionaire?

Some say…

Yes. This week, a report found that the UK has the second-highest level of inequality among developed countries, behind the US. It warned that the huge gap between rich and poor was driving people to despair. The truth is that no one needs one billion pounds to live a good life. If you have that much, you should give it away to those in need.

Others think…

There is nothing wrong with being rich. Most billionaires have earned their wealth by working hard, or by having a brilliant idea. In the process, they have helped to create jobs for countless other people, allowing them to earn their own money too. This is what drives economies — and societies — forward. Why shouldn’t they enjoy the rewards?

You Decide

  1. What would you do with £1 billion?

Activities

  1. Use your own calculations to work out how many seconds there are in a day. What about a week? Or a year?

Some People Say...

“Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.”

Epictetus

What do you think?

Word Watch

Annual
Yearly.
Invested
Giving money to a company to help it grow. The expectation is that you will earn it back, and more, as the company gets bigger.
Entrepreneurs
People who have started their own business.
Inherited
Received money when someone (usually a family member) dies.
Inequality
Not being equal.
Developed countries
Wealthy countries with advanced infrastructure (such as roads, power supplies, plumbing).
Economies
An economy is the state of a country’s money and finances.

Subjects

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