As we've noted around here before the usual figures on wealth inequlity that are bandied about are pants. Those who shriek about them never really do quite come clean and tell us that much of it all is to do with the life cycle, most of us starting adult life in debt and gaining assets along the way. There's also the studious refusal to consider the effects of the things we do to reduce wealth inequality. For example, private pensions are counted as wealth, the state pension not.
At which point we hugely welcome the new ONS report:
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the average household was worth £225,100 in 2012-14, when it carried out its latest survey of the country’s assets.
Since the previous survey two years earlier, the top tenth of households had seen a 21% increase in their wealth, including property and shares. That was three times as fast as the increase over the same period for the poorest half of households, who saw their wealth rise by 7%.
It left the top tenth of households owning 45% of total wealth, while the bottom half were left to share just 9%. The poorest 1%, meanwhile, owned just 0.05% of wealth.
No, not that bit, that's just the Guardian chuntering along and ignoring the good bit of this new report:
The Office for National Statistics has calculated “human capital”, which puts a monetary value on a person’s qualifications, age, health, personality and skills, measuring the total potential future earnings of everyone in the labour market.
The value of the UK’s human capital increased by £890 billion to £19.2 trillion last year.
The average employed person had a “human capital stock” of £471,000 at the end of last year, a rise of £18,000 compared with 2014. Those with a degree are worth £628,000 while those with no qualifications £274,000.
As we've pointed out before human capital entirely dwarfs any other kind in a modern economy.
Britons are also getting wealthier. The total value of the UK, its homes, streets, pension funds, even its social clubs, is now £8.8 trillion — equivalent to an average of £135,000 per person, or £327,000 per household.
Human capital is very much less unevenly distributed than financial capital. And when we add in, on top, the effects of the things we already do to reduce wealth inequality (which we could largely call "the welfare state") we would find that wealth inequality is both very different and very much lower than we've been told.