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World’s 26 richest people have the same wealth as the poorest half

Oxfam finds the world’s billionaires' wealth increased by £700bn in 2018 while 3.4bn people survive on less than £4.27 a day

BILLIONAIRES watched their fortunes balloon by £2 billion a day last year while the wealth of the world’s poorest plunged by 11 per cent, a charity has revealed.

The world’s 26 richest people now hold the same wealth as the poorest half of the global population, Oxfam’s annual report published today finds. The number has fallen from 43 in 2017.

The charity’s Public Good or Private Wealth? report said the wealth of the world’s billionaires increased by £700bn in 2018 while 3.4bn people survive on less than £4.27 a day.

Governments must fund better public services and reform tax policy, including tackling tax dodging, to bridge the widening equality gap, the charity said. Recommendations from the report include delivery of universal free healthcare, an end to “under-taxation” and more policies to support women and end sexual inequality.

Forcing the wealthiest 1 per cent to pay an extra 0.5 per cent in tax would raise an estimated £324.6bn a year to achieve these aims, Oxfam said.

Director of campaigns and policy Matthew Spencer said: “The way our economies are organised means wealth is increasingly and unfairly concentrated among a privileged few while millions of people are barely subsisting.

“Women are dying for lack of decent maternity care and children are being denied an education that could be their route out of poverty.

“No-one should be condemned to an earlier grave or a life of illiteracy simply because they were born poor.

“It doesn’t have to be this way — there is enough wealth in the world to provide everyone with a fair chance in life.”

Oxfam said many governments are exacerbating inequality through a lack of investment in public services.

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