10% of households have 43% of the wealth in the UK

I am starting to fall in love with the ONS website and the amount of data is releases on a day-to-day basis. It really is a treasure trove (if you’re that way inclined) of information. Today, the ONS released details on wealthiest households by region in the UK. 

A household required total wealth greater than £967,000 to belong to the wealthiest 10% of the distribution. The least wealthy 10% households have a wealth of £13,000 or less. The median wealth is £232,000.

It is not surprising, that the wealthiest is region excluding London is the South East. However, the South West is the third wealthiest after South East, London. That was a little bit surprising. Sadly the information provided is not broken down per region. The amount of wealth held by the top three is: South East 15.5%; London 12.5% and the South West 11.2%. For Scotland as a whole country it is 6.9% the lowest for the whole of the UK. Wales is better at 8.1%.

The combined net wealth of all private households within Great Britain is £10.3 trillion. The wealthiest tenth of households owns £4.5 trillion or 43.8% of overall wealth* and were over 850 times wealthier than the least wealthy tenth of households.

In contrast, and more shocking, the combined wealth of the bottom 50% of households is £1.0 trillion; a value which accounted for 9.9% of aggregate total wealth. The bottom 50% has a wealth of less than £232,000. I am totally staggered at the statistics of 10% of households owning nearly 44%, or £45 trillion of the wealth in the UK.

So what is household wealth? This includes property, pensions, possessions, cars and even private number plates! Before reading this ONS data, I would have thought most household wealth is made up of property. But I was wrong (in part) in thinking this. Nearly all households in this top wealth decile had private pension wealth (98.0%) and the median value of private pension wealth for these households was £742,000. In fact, 56.6% of wealth comprised from a private pension held by the top 10% of households.

It gets worse as more than two out of five households (43.3%) in the least wealthy half of the distribution had no private pension wealth at all and the median value of private pension wealth held by this group was £4,000. This is worrying as this group if having no private pension they will rely more and more on a State Pension. If that is not kept up with the cost of living, then households will be at a greater risk of poverty later in life.

Though unlike those in the highest percentage, property wealth made the largest contribution to total wealth for the least wealthy half of households (36.6%) even though only 41.4% of households in this group had any value of property wealth. Car ownership is included with only 38% in the bottom 50% of households not owning a car. Compared to 4.3% in the top 10%.

In the report it shows almost four out of every five household heads (78.1%) living in the wealthiest 10% of households were in high skilled managerial or professional occupations. In comparison, just over one in every four household heads living in the least wealthy half of all households held a job at this level (24.9%). Over half (55.1%) of household heads living in households in the top 10% of wealthy households had gained a qualification at degree level or above. 16.4% of household heads with a degree level qualification or higher living in households in the bottom half of the wealth distribution. 

Which sort of goes on to prove high-skilled jobs come about from education, but if further education now cost so much in line with the Governments increase in fees, the poorer households will be even at a greater disadvantage. Though I do acknowledge having a degree or higher qualification, there still needs to be a job for you to put it to good use.

Thanks to the ONS in allowing the use of the graphs, pictures and information.

There really is so much information contained within this report and the Wealth and Assets Survey that I could include, but it would take up so much space. However, I feel that if the Government and in part the Local Authority does not address the issues in the report, it will only get worse.

The ONS has even produced a YouTube video to explain the report. This is rather nice of them. (Yes I know, I could have just posted the video, but that would have been easy!)

 *The Wealth and Assets Survey (WAS) 2008/10  is a longitudinal survey conducted by the ONS which aims to address gaps identified in data about the economic well-being of households. It gathers information on, among others, level of assets, savings and debt; saving for retirement; how wealth is distributed among households or individuals; and factors that affect financial planning.

Other sources: Wealth in Great Britain in July 2012


  • I’m surprised that you’re surprised that the SW is the third wealthiest region. Huge swathes are now covered in second / third / fourth and retirement properties, plastic picturebox villages, stabling, dock-sick paddocks, and general trappings of luxurious living. The hilly landscape is perfect for the wealthy to sit pretty, safely secluded from the rest of us poor plebs. Very few “real” people can afford to live in the southwest any more and those that do are often crammed into rabbit hutch ghettoes. The region is a very sad indictment of this country’s priorities over the last 40 years. It would be nice to think they’d suffer from a lack of servants to do their skivvy work for them, but sadly there’ll always be a residue of poor ex-peasants in rural areas who ‘know their place” and will do the necessary for a few pounds.

  • The Black on white prinrt may look striking but it is not very easy to read. I suggest you consider the many people online with sight impairments and change it.
    I though COuncil had given up on outsourcing. Its a disgrace to give it all over to BT since 99% of their phone operators appear to be unable to speak ENGLISH clearly so cant be understood.! P

  • Gill Martin

    I come into the pleb category.

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