The 15 wealthiest Britons — from chemicals entrepreneur Jim Ratcliffe to jeweler Laurence Graff — have lost a combined $16 billion from their net worth so far in 2020.
Ratcliffe, the U.K.’s richest person, has been hit the hardest, with his fortune tumbling 24% to $16 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Vacuum-cleaner tycoon James Dyson has lost about $2.4 billion, and Virgin Group’s Richard Branson is down $1.1 billion as he scrambles to shore up a leisure and travel empire bruised by the pandemic.
The group — 14 of them men — still control a combined $103 billion. The lone woman in the cohort, self-made sports betting entrepreneur Denise Coates, is having the best year among them all: Her $6.5 billion fortune means she’s now the nation’s fifth-richest person, up from No. 12 at year-end.
Measures to mitigate the economic impact of the pandemic are expected to increase the U.K.’s budget deficit to about 300 billion pounds ($365.6 billion), compared with a forecast 55 billion pounds in March’s budget. Chancellor Rishi Sunak is said to be considering tax hikes, while others are calling for levies on individuals’ wealth after the crisis has passed.
Still, some of Britain’s richest fortunes may prove to be exempt. Ratcliffe, who created closely held chemicals giant Ineos, reportedly recently relocated to Monaco. Branson lives on a private island in the Caribbean.