IT’S a statistic to make your jaw swing in disbelief, or your eyes pop with rage: the combined wealth of Scotland’s five richest families falls just short of the nation’s entire public sector pay bill. 

Those five richest families are worth £18.3billion. Our public sector pay comes in at £18.9billion annually. Their wealth would fund an additional 595,000 public sector workers.

They accumulated enough wealth in the past year to pay for a 10% public sector pay rise, according to investigations by the STUC.

Within the past year alone, the top five families increased their wealth by £2.3billion, up from £15.9billion. 

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Here’s who they are: 

• Anders Holch Povlsen: makes money from fashion and brands like Bestseller and Asos. Worth £8.5bn

• Glenn Gordon and family: makes money from spirits, and brands like William Grant & Sons. Worth £4.6bn

• Sir Ian Wood and family: makes money from oil services and fishing through the Wood Group. Worth £1.8bn

• Mohamed Al Fayed and family: makes money through retailing and hotels, with brands like Harrods and Paris Ritz. Worth £1.7bn

• Mahdi al-Tajir: makes money from metals, oil and water, with brands like Highland Spring. Worth £1.6bn

Last year, if these families had used the extra money they made to cover the cost of that 10% pay rise for Scotland’s 595,000 public sector workers, they would still have had £500million left over.

STUC analysis shows the net cost to the Scottish Government for a cost-of-living pay rise - a key trade union demand during recent industrial action - is £1.8billion.

An STUC paper released last year ahead of the Holyrood budget set out the powers the Scottish Parliament has to increase the top rate of tax, including steps to introduce wealth and property taxes in Scotland.

A specific wealth tax, which was backed by the First Minister Humza Yousaf during the SNP leadership campaign, would, it’s estimated, raise an additional £1.3billion in revenue as part of a wider package of £3.3billion by 2026.

It’s likely - though statistics make it difficult to confirm - that the combined wealth of those five super-rich families is more than the entire wealth possessed by the bottom fifth of Scotland’s population...

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