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Richest 85 individuals have wealth equal to poorest 3.5 billion

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A new report by the charity Oxfam has calculated that the 85 wealthiest individuals in the world are worth as much as the 3.5 billion poorest. To put this staggering statistic in some sort of visual context, those individuals with the equivalent wealth of half the world’s population could fit on a single double decker bus.

And that is just 85 people. The fabled 1% are a different story entirely. The wealth of the 1% richest people in the world adds up to $110tn (£60.88tn), which is 65 times as much as the 3.5 billion people who make up the poorest half of the world.

As world leaders head to Davos for a week of Alpine self congratulation and high end networking, these figures reveal the extraordinary degree of inequality in our world. Oxfam executive director, Winnie Byanyima 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.”

“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," she added

Oxfam go on in the report to criticise a "power grab" by wealthy elites, who have manipulated politics, regulatory agencies, trade federations and the levers of power to stack the odds in their own favour, and in doing so, tipped the balance even further into the hands of the few

The report, entitled ‘Working for the Few’ examined the effect of lobbying by the wealthy to cut regulation, protect tax havens, allow anti competitive business practices and cut public services while also cutting the top rate of tax. Since the late 1970s, tax rates for the richest have fallen in 29 out of 30 countries for which data are available it said.

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