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New Government figures reveal extent of inequality in Scotland

New Government figures reveal extent of inequality in Scotland

The least wealthy 30 per cent of households own just two per cent of all personal wealth in Scotland, according to a new Scottish Government report.

The report, Wealth and Assets in Scotland 2006-12, examined inequality in Scotland, finding that the top two per cent of richest households own 17 per cent of all personal wealth in Scotland.

Meanwhile 83 per cent of Scots said the gap between those on highest and lowest incomes was too large.

The report found that although there was a slight reduction in inequality of total wealth in Scotland between 2006/08 and 2010/12, it was caused largely by a fall in the value of pension wealth owned by the wealthiest, rather than increases in ownership by the least wealthy households.

Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil responded to the findings, saying that tackling inequality is “at the heart” of Government.

He said: “It’s not right that the wealthiest 10 per cent of households have 20 times more wealth than the least wealthy 30 per cent.

“The poorest households have very few financial assets like savings or pensions, while a job is no guarantee of gaining wealth or the security that comes from it.

“We need concerted action to tackle inequality, yet even the UK Government’s own analysis shows that households with the lowest incomes are bearing a greater burden from public spending cuts – an astonishing admission that austerity is hitting the poorest the hardest.”

Meanwhile Margaret Curran put the high levels of inequality down to, “Tory austerity.”

She said: “A Labour Government will increase the taxes of the wealthiest few to give working class Scots a better shot at life. We will use the Mansion Tax on homes worth £2 million to fund 1,000 more nurses in Scotland's NHS and increase the top rate of tax to 50p to invest in the next generation. The Tories won't support this because they oppose the redistribution of wealth, and Alex Salmond told us at the weekend that the SNP oppose tax rises - even on the wealthiest few."

The Greens responded by calling for a wealth tax, targeting individuals with assets worth more that £2.5m.

Alison Johnstone, Green MSP said: “These figures paint a sad picture of a divided society, and they make the case for a new wealth tax on the richest among us.

“Our proposal would directly address the unacceptable gap between the most and least fortunate in our society. We are a wealthy country with plenty of food and yet inequality is driving thousands of families to food banks. It is very clear that those with assets of several million pounds can afford to contribute a bit more.”

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