Occupy London
Occupy London brought issues of wealth inequality in the United Kingdom to a wider audience (Reuters)

Huge inequalities in the inheritance of wealth exist in the United Kingdom, according to the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics.

The most recent Inheritance in Great Britain 2008/10 report found that a fifth of British inheritors received over three quarters of the overall amount of inheritable wealth from 2008-2010.

The total combined sum of inheritances received over the two years was estimated to be £75bn ($120.7bn, €87.6bn).

Of that total, £57bn went to a fifth of the population, which absorbed 76% of all inherited wealth from 2008-2010.

Patterns of Inheritance

Some 53% of those inheritors who received £10,000 or more said their overall financial situation had continued to improve.

Out of those who received an inheritance of £1000-£10,000, 36.7% said their financial situation was better than two years prior.

Among those who did not receive an inheritance, 24.9% reported their financial situation to be better than two years before.

Almost nine out of every 10 inheritances (88.4%) consisted of money or savings, while just under one in five inheritances (19.5%) included property or land.

Meanwhile, one in eight inheritances included personal possessions and a further 6.5% included stocks and shares.

Who Leaves Inheritance?

Interestingly, just over one in 10 inheritances were received from an uncle or aunt while 46.8% came from a parent or parent in law.

Grandparents accounted for just over a fifth of inheritances at 22.5%.

Who Benefits and Who Doesn't?

The ONS found that if a person is male he is less likely to receive inheritance compared to women, perhaps reflecting the variations in life expectancies between the genders.

Similarly, rates of inheritance for people of non-White ethnicity were lower than those who were white British.

Those who owned their own property outright compared with mortgage owners had an increased chance of inheriting wealth.

Similarly, rates of inheritance were higher for a person whose father was self-employed compared to a child whose father was an employee.

Education was also an important factor, as a child whose father had further education qualifications, such as a university degree, had a better chance of an inheritance.

However, the fact that people are living longer, combined with the cost of maintaining a higher standard of living means the opportunity to leave an inheritance to children is diminishing.