Inheritance figures reveal the stark inequality of Great Britain

A slum in Victorian London. Is inequality getting as bad as the bad old days?
A slum in Victorian London. Is inequality getting as bad as the bad old days?
Ian Dunt By

Official figures for inheritance paint a depressing and completely unsurprising portrait of Great Britain – a place where the rich get richer and the poor get stigmatised.

The UK remains a country where those who least need it receive the most.

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) figures show 1.6 million adults (3.6% of the population) received an inheritance worth over £1,000 between 2008 and 2010. Half received less than £10,000, but one in ten received £125,000 or more.

In fact, the luckiest fifth recieved a total of £57 billion – that accounts for 76% of all inherited wealth during the period.

Who did it go to? No prizes for guessing.

Rates of inheritance were higher for individuals living in households which already had the highest levels of wealth, according to the ONS.

Those in the wealthiest fifth of households had an increased chance of receiving inheritance. Those in managerial – rather than routine – occupations had an increased chance of receiving inheritance. Those who owned their main property outright, rather than holding a mortgage, had an increased chance. White Brits had an increased chance compared to non-white Brits. Those whose parents were mortgage owners, rather than renters, had an increased chance.

It's a despairing portrait of a country where fortunes are stratifying and the lucky become ever luckier still.

Almost half of inheritances came from parents, with a fifth coming from grandparents. Oddly enough, over one in ten came from an uncle or aunt. Just one in 20 was from a friend or neighbour.

Nearly nine in ten inheritances involved money in some form. The most commons response to this type of inheritance was to save it – unlike property, which is sold 50% of the time and lived in just 17.9% of the time.

The cash injection from an inheritance allows people to pay back debts and get on top of their financial situations. The ONS found those who received an inheritance had a rise in their median net financial wealth of £5,850 more than those who didn't.

As Withnail said to I: "Free to those who can afford it, very expensive to those that can't."

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