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The eight richest billionaires have as much wealth as half the world’s population. Analysis by Oxfam shows the tycoons have together amassed fortunes totalling £349.8billion.  The planet’s poorest 3.6billion have the same sum between them.

Those people are the richest in the world
Those people are the richest in the world

‘This concentration of wealth at the top is holding back the fight to end global poverty,’ the report says, also claiming that executive pay in the UK is out of control.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates tops the Oxfam list, with a fortune of £61.6billion.

He is followed by Amancio Ortega, the Spaniard behind fashion chain Zara, who is worth £55billion.

Legendary US investor Warren Buffet is third with £49.9billion.

The report was released to coincide with this week’s meeting of the global elite in the Swiss ski resort of Davos.

The annual gathering of the rich and powerful will see politicians, captains of industry and corporate fat cats rub shoulders with bankers, diplomats and celebrities.

The World Economic Forum, the organisation behind the junket, says it is ‘committed to improving the state of the world’ and insists the meeting will focus on inequality and reforming capitalism.

But critics highlighted the ‘obvious paradox in some of the richest people in the world gathering in luxury to worry about the poor for a few days’.

The Oxfam report shows the richest 1 per cent of the global population own more wealth than the other 99 per cent combined.

Concerns about inequality and stagnating living standards have been blamed for political upheaval across the West – including Brexit and the election of Donald Trump.

Mark Goldring, chief executive of Oxfam in the UK, said: ‘It is beyond grotesque that a group of men who could easily fit in a single golf buggy own more than the poorest half of humanity.

‘While one in nine people on the planet will go to bed hungry tonight a small handful of billionaires have so much wealth they would need several lifetimes to spend it.

‘The fact that a super-rich elite are able to prosper at the expense of the rest of us at home and overseas shows how warped our economy has become.

‘Inequality is not only keeping millions of people trapped in poverty, it is fracturing our societies and poisoning our politics.

‘It’s just not right that top executives take home massive bonuses while workers’ wages are stagnating or that multinationals and millionaires dodge taxes while public services are being cut.’

The Oxfam report highlights UK pay ratios that mean the average earnings of FTSE 100 chief executives are 129 times those of a typical employee.

But the Institute for Economic Affairs think-tank claimed Oxfam’s report was misleading and failed to recognise that trade and industry were a huge force for good.

Director general Mark Littlewood said: ‘Once again Oxfam have come out with a report that demonises capitalism.

‘Their claim that eight people own the same wealth as half the world is as spurious as their methodology.

‘Aggregating net wealth figures is largely meaningless headline fodder.

‘Unfortunately there are corrupt countries where wealth is accumulated at the expense of the poor but this is a case for tackling big government, not bashing free markets.’

Theresa May has pledged to tackle fat cat pay and criticised the divide between bosses and workers.

Daily Mail