The worlds richest billionaires are now hoarding as much wealth as the poorest half of the world’s people combined, according to a new report that warns about rising global wealth inequality.
In it’s latest annual report, Public Good or Private Wealth?, Oxfam finds that just 26 people now own the same wealth as the poorest half of the world – down from 46 people in 2017.
The report shows that billionaire fortunes have risen by $2.5 billion a day over the last year, while the poorest half of the world’s people saw their wealth decline by 11%.
The charity says many government’s are exacerbating wealth inequality by failing to invest in public services, whilst calling for fairer taxation and urging government’s to take on tax dodgers.
Whilst the number of people living in extreme poverty around the world has declined significantly in recent decades, a World Bank report found that the global rate of poverty reduction almost halved between 2013 and 2015.
Oxfam also highights research by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), that found ‘significant potential’ to raise more tax revenue from businesses and the wealthiest people to fund vital public services.
For example, if the world’s richest 1% were asked to pay just 0.5% more tax on their wealth it would raise an estimated $418 billion a year, Oxfam says.
This alone would generate enough cash to educate every child currently not in school and provide healthcare services that could prevent millions of deaths around the globe.
Oxfam say properly funded public services are key to reducing inequality and poverty, whilst also avoiding “a race to the bottom” that could further harm the health and wellbeing of billions of the world’s poorest citizens.
Oxfam Director of Campaigns and Policy, Matthew Spencer, said: “The massive fall in the number of people living in extreme poverty is one of the greatest achievements of the past quarter of a century but rising inequality is jeopardising further progress.
“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.
“Governments should act to ensure that taxes raised from wealth and businesses paying their fair share are used to fund free, good-quality public services that can save and transform people’s lives.”