62 people now own as much wealth as half of the world’s entire population, according to a damning new report by the charity Oxfam.

The revealing report, published ahead of an annual gathering of the world political elite at Davos, highlights the global issue of income inequality and reveals how 1% now own more than the rest of the world combined.

Oxfam says that whilst world leaders wax lyrical over the need to tackle inequality, the wealth of the poorest half of the world’s population has plummeted by a trillion dollars since 2010 – a 41% drop.

Meanwhile the wealth of the richest 62 has soared by more than half a trillion dollars, laying waste to any claims that Government’s are serious about tackling the injustice of income inequality.

Oxfam is calling on world leaders to put their words into action to tackle the inequality crisis that is harming the worlds poorest people.

This can be achieved by adopting a three-pronged approach: ‘Cracking down on tax dodging, increased investment in public services and action to boost the income of the lowest paid’.

The charity is also calling for the end of tax havens, which they say allows individuals and companies to avoid paying their fair share in taxes. This would help increase the financial resources available to eradicate world poverty and end inequality, say Oxfam.

David Cameron vowed to lead an offensive against aggressive tax avoidance three years ago. This included introducing measures to increase transparency in British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies.

PM David Cameron. Photo credit: British PM David Cameron via photopin (license)
PM David Cameron. Photo credit: British PM David Cameron via photopin (license)

However, his words now appear to be nothing more than empty promises, because the Prime Minister’s pledge has yet to be implemented.

He also pledged to introduce public registers of companies’ owners in an effort to crack down on tax dodgers. Whilst the UK itself has lived up to the promise, only one Overseas Territory, Montserrat, and not a single Crown Dependency have done the same.

Mark Goldring, Oxfam GB Chief Executive, said: “It is simply unacceptable that the poorest half of the world population owns no more than a small group of the global super-rich – so few, you could fit them all on a single coach.

“World leaders’ concern about the escalating inequality crisis has so far not translated into concrete action to ensure that those at the bottom get their fair share of economic growth. In a world where one in nine people go to bed hungry every night we cannot afford to carry on giving the richest an ever bigger slice of the cake.

“We need to end the era of tax havens which has allowed rich individuals and multinational companies to avoid their responsibilities to society by hiding ever-increasing amounts of money offshore.

“Tackling the veil of secrecy surrounding the UK’s network of tax havens would be a big step towards ending extreme inequality. Three years after he made his promise to make tax dodgers ‘wake up and smell the coffee’, it is time for David Cameron to deliver.”

Is money the route of all evil? Photo credit: Liz West - Flickr.
Is money the route of all evil? Photo credit: Liz West – Flickr.

Only through collecting all taxes owed, particularly from the super-rich, can Government’s hope to achieve their aim of eradicating world poverty by 2030, say Oxfam. Extra tax revenue can be used to invest in healthcare, schools and other vital public services.

Whilst the number of people living in extreme poverty may have halved between 1990 and 2010, the income of the poorest 10% of the worlds population has only increased by less than $3 a year in the last 25 years.

Oxfam says that had income inequality not grown between 1990 and 2010, around 200 million people would have escaped the poverty trap.

Their report also shows a falling share of national income going to workers in almost all developed and most developing countries, with women affected more than men. Women remain the lowest paid workers around the world.

Government’s should also ensure that more people in work can earn an acceptable level of income, improving the standard of living for those at the bottom as well as for those at the top.

They should also introduce measures to tackle the income gap between men and women, the charity says.

Goldring added: added: “Ending extreme poverty requires world leaders to tackle the growing gap between the richest and the rest which has trapped hundreds of millions of people in a life of poverty, hunger and sickness.

“It is no longer good enough for the richest to pretend that their wealth benefits the rest of us, when the facts show that the recent explosion in the wealth of the super-rich has come at the expense of the poorest.”