Sir James Dyson has been named top of the Sunday Times Rich List for the first time with a £16.2billion fortune.
The Brexit-backing entrepreneur saw his wealth grow by £3.6billion over the past year, while Britain’s wealthiest saw £54billion wiped of their fortunes in two months due to coronavirus.
In February, it was expected the number of billionaires would rise to nearly 160, but it fell by four to 147 as the pandemic took hold, the Sunday Times said.
A record 25 female billionaires make the list, which also shows the overall wealth of the 1,000 richest people in the UK is down by £29billion on last year.
More than half of the country’s billionaires have seen losses as high as £6billion, with the combined wealth of the 1,000 wealthiest individuals and families plunging for the first time since 2009, in the wake of the financial crisis.
Sir James Dyson has been named top of the Sunday Times Rich List for the first time with a £16.2billion fortune
Left: Sri and Gopi Hinduja who work in industry and finance are worth £16 billion. They topped the list last year. Right: David and Simon Reuben who work in property and internet are worth £16 billion and come third on the list
Fourth on the list is Sir Leonard Blavatnik who works in investment, music and media. He is worth £15.78 billion
Research shows that at least 63 on the list – including 20 billionaires – have sought to furlough some of their staff under the taxpayer-backed scheme.
Sir James, 72 , topped the list despite losing £500 million of his own money on an electric car project which was scrapped.
List compiler Robert Watts said: ‘Ever since the financial crisis of 2008-9, Britain’s wealthiest people have become richer and richer.
The top 10 for 2020 are:
1. Sir James Dyson and family, household goods and technology, £16.2 billion.
2. Sri and Gopi Hinduja and family, industry and finance, £16 billion.
3. David and Simon Reuben, property and internet, £16 billion.
4. Sir Leonard Blavatnik, investment, music and media, £15.78 billion.
5. Sir Jim Ratcliffe, Ineos chemical giant, £12.15 billion.
6. Kirsten and Jorn Rausing, inheritance and investment, £12.1 billion.
7. Alisher Usmanov, mining and investment, £11.68 billion.
8. Guy, George and Galen Jr Weston and family, retail, £10.53 billion
9. Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken and Michel de Carvalho, inheritance, brewing and banking, £10.3 billion.
10. The Duke of Westminster and the Grosvenor family, property, £10.29 billion.
‘Covid-19 has called time on their golden period. This year’s rich list paints a picture of Britain on the brink of calamity – two months after lockdown and already billions of pounds have been wiped out.
‘You may not like the super-rich, but it is hard to deny that our economy will need the jobs they create and the taxes they and their companies pay if we are to escape a prolonged recession that causes further misery to millions.’
The full list covering the wealthiest 1,000 people in the UK will be published on Sunday in a 136-page edition of The Sunday Times Magazine.
The list includes the Hinduja brothers, who have furloughed around 360 employees at Optare, their North Yorkshire-based bus-making firm. The Indian-born brothers topped last year’s Rich List.
Hinduja Group employs 150,000 people worldwide and had sales of nearly £40billion in 2018. It is chaired by Srichand Hinduja who lives in London along with brother Gopi.
Gopi has a £250million home on Carlton House Terrace in central London, where the family occupies four connected homes bought from the Queen.
Sir Jim Ratcliffe, who topped the rankings in 2018, co-owns The Pig hotel chain which has furloughed most of its staff.
This year he is worth £12.15bn and is also seeking an emergency loan from the government for Petroineos, a joint venture between his oil company Ineos and the Chinese state-owned PetroChina.
Fifth on the list is Sir Jim Ratcliffe. This year he is worth £12.15bn and is also seeking an emergency loan from the government for Petroineos, a joint venture between his oil company Ineos and the Chinese state-owned PetroChina
Three other entries in this year’s Rich List top 10 have also used the furlough scheme. They are the Reuben brothers, Sir Leonard Blavatnik, and the Weston family, which owns Primark.
Carys Roberts, executive director of the Institute for Public Policy Research, challenged the use of furlough schemes, telling the publication: ‘Some businesses receiving taxpayers’ help during the Covid crisis are owned by wealthy individuals, who for years have rewarded themselves generously while paying minimal UK tax.
Left: Sixth on the list is Kirsten and Jorn Rausing who work in inheritance and investment. They are worth £12.1 billion. Right: Seventh on the list is Alisher Usmanov who works in mining and investment. He is worth £11.68 billion
Coming eighth on the list is Guy, George and Galen Jr Weston (left with wife Hilary) and family who work in retail. They are worth £10.53 billion
Ninth on the list is Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken and Michel de Carvalho who work in inheritance, brewing and banking. They are worth £10.3 billion
Coming tenth on the list is The Duke of Westminster and the Grosvenor family who work in property. They are worth £10.29 billion
‘Why haven’t they invested more in economic good times to make their businesses more resilient against economic shocks? Why can’t they now dip into their own deep pockets instead of asking ordinary families to do so for them?’
The biggest fallers include the steel baron Lakshmi Mittal, the Hindujas and Ratcliffe. They have seen their valuations sink by between £3.9bn and £6bn since last year.
The easyJet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou’s wealth has fallen by £538m to £1.754bn, while the tycoon Sir Richard Branson is worth £3.625bn, a £425m fall from a year ago.
Several well-known retailers crash out of this year’s Rich List, including the founders of Ted Baker, ASOS and Joules.