Britain’s wealthiest individuals are better off than ever before with a combined worth of £518.975bn, a rise of 15.4% on last year.
The UK’s 1,000 richest people now own the equivalent of a third of the country's GDP, the Sunday Times' annual Rich List suggests. Philip Beresford, compiler of the Rich List and MT’s contributing editor, said: ‘I've never seen such a phenomenal rise in personal wealth... While some may criticise them, many of these people are at the heart of the economy and their success brings more jobs and more wealth for the country.’
A minimum of £85m was needed to even be considered for the list this year – that compares to £80m in 2008 at the height of the pre-crash boom and £75m last year.
The list is based on ‘identifiable wealth’ - including land, property, other assets such as art and racehorses, or significant shares in publicly quoted companies. To get into the top 500, the rich needed £190m - double the £80m required in 2004 and up £30m from the £160m cut off point for last year's list.
Reflecting the widening poverty gap, the top 64 names had a combined fortune of £255bn, which is equivalent to the combined wealth of the nation’s poorest 30%.
Businessmen Sri and Gopi Hinduja, the Indian-born brothers behind the global conglomerate Hinduja Group, topped the list for the first time with a joint wealth of £11.9bn.
The Queen had a sterling year as she added £10 million to her personal fortune and is now ranked 285 with £330m.
South African insurance tycoon Douw Steyn, the money behind the suprising success of the meerkat TV advertising campaign for comparethemarket.com, saw his wealth go up by £50m to a total of £600m, ranked 170.
Former Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy, who stepped down at the supermarket chain in 2011, was among the new entrants with a fortune of £100m, ranking at 863.
Gaming entrepreneurs also had a successful year. The four founders of King Digital Entertainment, the firm behind the addictive Candy Crush game, joined the list for the first time. Meanwhile the masterminds behind best-seller computer game Grand Theft Auto, Rockstar Games supremos and brothers Sam and Dan Houser, were new entries at 947 with a joint fortune of £90m.
This year’s list featured 114 women - down four from 2013 but up 36 on a decade ago. They include Tamara Mellon, who co-founded the Jimmy Choo shoes brand, and Harry Potter author JK Rowling.
Last week it was announced that the number of billionaires living in Britain has risen to more than 100 for the first time. A total of 104 billionaires now call Britain home, with a combined wealth of £301bn between them, meaning the UK has more billionaires per head than any other country.
UK's top 10 billionaires
1) Sri and Gopi Hinduja, £11.9bn, up £1.3bn