Pensions And Property Boost UK Household Wealth

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Soaring pension and property values have helped boost UK household wealth by a massive £1.7 trillion, according to official figures.

Households in Britain had a median net worth of £259,000 by the end of 2016, says new research from the Office of National Statistics.

Household wealth surged by £1.7 trillion from £11.1 trillion to £12.8 trillion between 2012 and 2016.

But although the country is richer, the gap between rich and poor remains around the same.

The top 10% of the richest households hold five times the wealth of the poorest 50% – a figure that has stayed the same since the first ONS household wealth survey carried out in 2006/08.

Soaring London house prices

Researchers identify personal pensions and property as the drivers behind the increase in wealth.

Money in pensions increased by 20% from £4.4 trillion to £5.3 trillion between 2012/14 and 2014/16, with a third of the rise due to stock market performance rather than people saving more for retirement.

In 2014/16, 49% of those aged 16 to 64 were contributing to a pension, up from 44% in 2012/14.

Net property wealth surged by 17% from £3.9 trillion in 2012/14 to £4.6 trillion in 2014/16, mainly due to rising prices in London.

The average home was priced at £351,000 in 2014/16 – up a third compared with the previous period.

Poor don’t share country’s good fortune

But not everyone is sharing in the country’s economic good fortune.

The poorest 10% owning a home were in negative equity.

And household debt was up 7% since 2012, putting borrowers in the red to the tune of £1.23 trillion, with £1.12 trillion of this amount advanced as mortgages. This was a 6% increase on 2012/14, while other debt, such as credit cards, loans and overdrafts reached £117 billion – up 15% from the previous period.

Median wealth means 50% of households have more than £259,000.

Belonging to the 10% richest households means having total wealth of more than £1.21 million, while joining the richest 1% means having household wealth of at least £3.22 million.

Those in the poorest 10% have household wealth of less than £14,100. These households debts that exceed the value of their assets.

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