Social Justice

World's billionaires are worth £11.3 trillion. Here's how their cash could make the world a better place

According to the Forbes annual rich list, it’s been an 'amazing year' for the world’s wealthiest. Here's what we would do with their money

Global billionaires have a combined wealth of £11.3 trillion. Credit: wiki commons

There are more billionaires than ever before.

As the cost of living crisis grinds on, times are tough for plenty of Brits. But take solace: according to the Forbes annual rich list, it’s been an “amazing year” for the world’s wealthiest.

A record 2,781 people now have fortunes exceeding $1bn (£800m), an increase of 141 on 2023. Two-thirds of the planet’s billionaires are richer than a year ago.

Together, this uber-rich cohort – which includes Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and Taylor Swift – are worth a staggering $14.2 trillion (£11.3tn).

It’s an eye watering sum. The average salary in the UK is currently £29,669. Even if you saved every penny, it would still take you more than 33,000 years to earn £1bn. A trillion is a thousand billions.

So what, if you found yourself with a spare $14.2tn, could you do with it? They say money can’t buy you happiness – but here are some of the things that it can buy.

End world hunger… 40 times

“Ending world hunger is the best investment money can buy,” according to Oxfam.

The world produces enough food to feed 10 billion people. Yet as many as 828 million regularly go hungry, including 50 million on the brink of famine.

According to United Nations World Food Program, an annual investment of around $40bn (£31.5bn) is needed to achieve Zero Hunger by 2030 – a total investment of £280bn.

Based on these estimates, we could use the combined wealth of the globe’s billionaires to end world hunger… 40 times over.

Eradicate malaria 122 times

More than 200 million people contract Malaria each year, and more than 400,000 die from it. Nearly 70% of these deaths are children under five.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Once common in Europe and the United States, the mosquito-borne disease has now been all but eliminated in these areas.

Eradicating malaria globally by 2040 would cost between $90bn (£71bn) and $120bn (£94bn), according to the Gates Foundation. Even at the higher end of this spectrum, we could use billionaire money to wipe out malaria 122 times over.

Build 310 million homes

Britain is in the grips of a housing crisis. Some 1.2 million families are stuck on local authority waiting lists, often crammed into unsuitable temporary accommodation.

The housing charity Crisis estimates that we need to build 340,000 new homes per year to make good a four million home shortfall by 2040.

Building a typical three-bedroom home can cost between £242,250 and £363,375, according to analysis from Urbanist Architecture. With global trillionaire wealth, we could build at least 310.9 million of these homes.

Buy 8,692 Buckingham Palaces

The seat of the British Royal Family is valued at an estimated £1.3bn. For 775 bedrooms, 78 bathrooms, 52 royal and guest rooms, 92 offices and 19 staterooms, that’s a steal.

With global trillionaire wealth, you could buy nearly 9,000 of the stately residences – as long as you don’t mind tourists peeking in your windows.

Purchase 2.8 trillion copies of the Big Issue

Since The Big Issue launched in 1991, vendors have sold more than 220 million copies of the magazine. If you stacked all the magazines sold by vendors in the UK on top of each other, they’d stretch for 455 miles, well beyond the International Space Station.

These sales have helped transform the lives of people who need a hand up. But global trillionaire wealth could purchase a further 2.8 trillion at the current cover price of £4. If you stacked all these magazines up, they’d stretch for 5.7 million miles. From this distance, the earth looks like a tiny dot.

Buy 28 million tickets to Mars

Speaking of space… Billionaire Elon Musk has estimated that a ticket to Mars on a SpaceX flight would cost between $100,000 (£79,470) and $500,000 (£397,380).

“Mars in the beginning will not be luxurious,” Musk said. “It will be dangerous, cramped, hard work.”

Sound appealing? Even at the higher end of the spectrum, global billionaire wealth could purchase 28.4 million tickets to Mars – more than enough to populate Musk’s dream SpaceX mega-colony.

Pay for the world’s most expensive football team… and have 9,337 more teams on the subs bench

Manchester United’s 2022-23 squad was the “most expensive ever assembled” in football, a UEFA report revealed last month.

At the end of the 2023 financial year, United’s players cost a 1.42bn euros (£1.21bn) in combined transfer fees. So with £11.3 trillion, you could purchase 9,338 of these squads. Silverware would be a shoo-in.

Pay off the UK’s debt – and then give every Brit £75k

At the end of 2022/23, public sector net debt was £2.54tn, or 96% of GDP. This is equivalent to around £37,900 per person in the UK. So we could pay off the UK’s debt – and still have enough left over to give every British person £75,800 as a nice bonus.

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