Britain's Rich Enjoying Record Wealth
Britain's rich are getting richer, and steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal is still the richest of them all, according to this year's Sunday Times Rich List.
The Indian-born billionaire topped the list for the seventh successive year with an estimated fortune of £12.7bn, despite also suffering the biggest fall in wealth of any of the 1,000 men and women named.
Mr Mittal and his family were worth 4.8bn less than last year, leaving them only just ahead of Uzbek metals magnate and Arsenal shareholder, Alisher Usmanov, with £12.3bn.
Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich came in third with £9.5bn, down £800m on last year.
The wealthiest Briton is the Duke of Westminster, in seventh place with an estimated £7.35bn, thanks to his central London property empire.
And as the rest of country dipped back into recession this week, the combined wealth of Britain's 1,000 richest men and women reached a record high of more than £414bn.
Rich List compiler Philip Beresford told Sky News: "Obviously it's very difficult in this age of austerity when the government puts out the mantra 'we're all in this together' and the rich seem to be getting richer and richer.
"However, I would caution against bashing the rich because a lot of the people on this rich list are based here, they're investing in companies here, and if they get richer hopefully the rest of us will get a bit more prosperous on the rising tide of wealth."
The Hinduja Brothers, Srichand, 76, and Gopichand, 72, returned to prominence this year, rising five places to claim the fourth spot, with an estimated fortune of £8.6bn, up an impressive £2.6bn on last year.
2012 saw a record eight lottery millionaires joining the list, led by Europe's biggest lottery winners Colin and Chris Weir at number 462, with £160m.
The couple, who have been married for 30 years, gave their home to a neighbour after their win and bought an £850,000 replacement, as well as homes and cars for their children.
Mr and Mrs Weir, a former television cameraman and psychiatric nurse respectively, then donated £1m to the Scottish National Party, making them the country's top political donors, ahead of Peter Cruddas, Sir Anthony Bamford and Lord Sainsbury.
While the likes of Adele and Cheryl Cole have made it onto the Young Rich List, the main list is still dominated by the older generation.
List compiler Mr Beresford said: "Adele is coming on brilliantly with her '21' success, but the main rich list is still dominated by the old, wrinkly rockers - the Sir Paul McCartneys of this world, although I don't suppose he'd want me to call him a wrinkly rocker, and the Rolling Stones.
"And they're doing it now, not just in downloads and record sales, but with their huge stadium tours.
"The real masters of that are U2 in Ireland - their last big tour made over 500m euros in ticket sales."
London and the southeast still dominate the list with 53% of entries, but there are now 74 Scottish entries (up from 70 last year), and 24 Welsh (the same as last year).
"This year we've got a record 77 billionaires, a lot of them foreign-born billionaires, based in London who like London as the centre of their particular universe," Mr Beresford said.
"A lot of Russians find London to be less corrupt, less dangerous than Moscow or St Petersburg for instance."
"But the best examples of people who are getting prosperous and rich on the back of their own endeavours are Britons like a guy called Michael Oliver (number 243), who is in his 70s and yet runs the biggest valve-making company in Europe.
"He's making enormous sums of profits and they're generating more jobs and more tax revenue and it's exactly what we need."
The list's compilers admit it is a "broad brush estimate", based on public accounts, market intelligence, and in some cases the individuals themselves.
"We look at their accounts, we have spies all over the place and a lot of them co-operate now. There's one guy, I don't want to embarrass him, but he gives me a full breakdown of everything he owns, signed off by his reputable accountant," Mr Beresford explained.
"More and more are helping me like that, so we're getting there, and getting more accurate."
And those behind the list report more than a slight air of one-upmanship amongst our wealthiest citizens. Mr Beresford related the story of one man who phoned his friend, also on the list to say: 'Hello, number 21 here, am I talking to number 36?'"
:: The Top 10:
1 - Lakshmi Mittal and family - £12.7bn2 - Alisher Usmanov - £12.3bn3 - Roman Abramovich - £9.5bn4 - Sri and Gopi Hinduja - £8.6bn5 - Leonard Blavatnik - £7.58bn6 - Ernesto and Kirsty Bertarelli - £7.4bn7 - The Duke of Westminster - £7.35bn8 - David and Simon Reuben - £7.08bn9 - John Fredriksen and family - £6.6bn10 - Galen and George Weston and family - £5.9bn