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.