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March 2014

The world’s wealthiest have so much power and influence that 85 per cent of the richest people on earth owns the wealth of half the world’s population, research claims.

In a 32-page report, Working for the few: political capture and economic equality, Oxfam states that widening inequality is having a ‘pernicious effect’ on developed and developing countries.

It claims that wealth is helping the richest undermine democratic processes and insist on policies to promote their interests at the expense of everyone else.

The report, which was published ahead of the World Economic Forum that met in Davos, Switzerland, in January, also found that the general UK population was becoming aware of this undue influence. 

In a poll carried out by the Research Now group, two-thirds of Brits believed the rich had too much influence over the political direction of the UK.

Winnie Byanyima, executive director for Oxfam, said, ‘It is staggering that in the 21st century, half of the world’s population — that’s three and a half billion people — own no more than a tiny elite, whose numbers could all fit comfortably on a double-decker bus.

‘We cannot hope to win the fight against poverty without tackling inequality. Widening inequality is creating a vicious circle, where wealth and power are increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few, leaving the rest of us to fight over crumbs from the top table’.

The report outlined some harmful financial measures implemented over the past few decades. These included financial deregulation, tax havens and secrecy, anti-competitive business practices, lower tax rates on high incomes and investments, and cuts or under-investment in majority public services. 

The report comes ahead of Oxfam’s launch of a global campaign asking governments to put an end to inequality, by cracking down on financial secrecy and tax dodging, investing in universal education and healthcare, and introducing a global goal to end extreme inequality.


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