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Inventor James Dyson tops 2020 Sunday Times Rich List - but it's not all good news for the super-rich

The list has shown the respected annual ranking of the UK’s 1,000 wealthiest people since 1989.

Image: DPA/PA Images

INVENTOR JAMES DYSON has topped the Sunday Times’ annual Rich List for the first time.

The list, which has shown the respected annual ranking of the UK’s 1,000 wealthiest people since 1989, also shows how Britain’s wealthiest people have lost tens of billions of pounds in the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the Sunday Times, the combined annual wealth of those on the list has fallen for the first time in a decade, with the past two months resulting in the super-rich losing a total of £54 billion (€60 billion).

More than half of the billionaires in Britain had seen drops in their worth by as much as €6.7bn, a decrease in their collective wealth that has been been since 2009 amidst the global financial crisis.

However, Dyson bucked the trend by topping the list with an estimated wealth of €18.1bn.

The paper credited his rise from fifth place in 2019 to both the strong performance of his businesses and the plummeting fortunes of other billionaires in the top 10.

This year’s top 10 are:

  • £16.2bn – James Dyson and family
  • £16bn – Sri and Gopi Hinduja and family
  • £16bn – David and Simon Reuben
  • £15.8bn – Leonard Blavatnik
  • £12.2bn – Jim Ratcliffe
  • £12.1bn – Kirsten and Jorn Rausing
  • £11.7bn – Alisher Usmanov
  • £10.5bn – Guy, George and Galen Jr Weston and family
  • £10.3bn – Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken and Michel de Carvalho
  • £10.3bn – The Duke of Westminster and the Grosvenor family

 Billionaire capital of the world

In total, the 2020 list calculated the combined wealth of Britain’s super-rich to be €831bn -  €32bn less than last year.

Although its number of billionaires dropped by four to 147, London remains the billionaire capital of the world, with 89 born, living or with a significant chunk of their assets based in the city.

“The first detailed analysis of the super-rich’s finances since the Covid-19 outbreak began will heighten concerns that Britain is entering a deep and long-lasting recession,” the Sunday Times said.

The paper noted at least 63 members of the list, including 20 billionaires, have sought to use a government-run furlough scheme which pays staff up to 80 percent of their salaries up to £2,500 a month during the crisis.

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They include London-based Sri and Gopi Hinduja, owners of the sprawling Hinduja Group of companies, who have furloughed around 360 employees at Optare, their bus-making firm based in northern England.

Ratcliffe co-owns The Pig hotel chain, which has furloughed most of its staff, while he is also seeking an emergency loan from the government for a joint venture between Ineos and the Chinese state-owned PetroChina.

Carys Roberts, executive director of the Institute for Public Policy Research, told the Sunday Times their use of the taxpayer-funded schemes was highly questionable.

“Why can’t they now dip into their own deep pockets instead of asking ordinary families to do so for them?” she said.

- © AFP 2020

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