Your part in £88 trillion and counting

I’ve come late to this but the ONS calculated in August last year that UK net worth was £88 trillion (if you’re wondering, as I was, £1 trillion is a one with 12 zeros after it). Now from a peremptory glance it seems they subtract the ‘National Debt’ from this figure so goodness knows where our pension savings are – but I digress – the ONS further estimates that this figure is equivalent to approximately £135,000 per head of the population, or £327,000 per household.

If this is the case how come we’ve got people struggling with debt where they can be borrowing £1,000 from, say, an Aqua credit card with a monthly interest rate of 3.992% and whilst making minimum monthly payments, they will have paid almost half the debt again with £480.57 interest in 12 months, and how come we have people pushed into homelessness? And we know that a study by the Money Advice Service (MAS) has found more than 16million people in the UK have savings of less than £100, but why?

What exactly happened to this £135,000 per head of the population, or indeed, the £327,000 per household?

Did they spend it all in a rash moment at BetFred? Or perhaps just go on a few very good holidays? Of course, we know what actually happens. People struggling with debt or homelessness simply did not have the foresight to inherit money. Jobs are no longer any sort of easy route to a comfortable life, and private renting on a six month contract can push you and your family into severe financial jeopardy whenever it comes to an unexpected end.

The ONS statistics make you realise what a wealthy country the UK is and how much immeasurably better it would be if that wealth were just a bit better distributed. We now know for sure that wealth doesn’t arrive through talent, so it makes me think that Universal Basic Capital (or Income) would be a start, and that perhaps it should be at a higher rate for those without capital.

Yes, I know that would probably affect most of those now reading this – and indeed me (mercifully, I somehow managed in the end to keep the house out of the rapacious clutches of the Royal Bank of Scotland).

But the way we got to £88 trillion was with a society, so I think by definition, it is qualitatively better organised for the general good rather than simple individualism, and we have discovered that a flatter distribution of assets is always better for well-being.


  1. Sean Danaher -


    Prof Charles Adams blogged about this from a different angle a few months ago here on Progressive Pulse. He thought it was very unhealthy to have wealth at about 8 times the GDP of the country. We seem once again to be returning to the 19th cent where the “upper” stratum of society live a parasitic rent extracted existence and the actual creators of wealth scrabble about on the bottom.

    1. Marco Fante -


      Re. this: “He thought it was very unhealthy to have wealth at about 8 times the GDP of the country.”

      He (Charles) was right of course but we might also consider that a lot of that “wealth” is largely notional bubble froth. Anything that can rapidly disappear in one day on the Dow Jones or FTSE is not and never was real. Similar things can be said about certain property ‘values’.

      Your point remains of course. I would merely note that the numbers involved are precarious and can be a bit misleading.

  2. Peter May -

    Agreed that the wealth may be bubble froth but as long as it’s mostly spendable and makes people’s lives easier, in that context, it probably doesn’t matter.

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