Envy of the wealthy and successful could be to blame for a surge in the number of cars damaged by vandals.

Incidents of car vandalism has risen by 10 per cent in three years, could be "indicative of wider societal problems," said the RAC, quoted in The Times, suggesting that people boiling with rage after years of grinding austerity are attacking symbols of wealth.

According to police forces in England and Wales the recorded cases of deliberate scratches, slashed tyres, snapped windscreen wipers, smashed wing mirrors and broken windows have jumped by 19,238 since 2013.

The data, which was released under the Freedom of Information Act, showed that 210,418 vehicles were reported to have suffered criminal damage last year, up from 191,180 three years earlier.

However, the RAC suspects the actual figures are considerably higher as car owners, fearful of the costs of their next insurance premiums could soar, handle the repair bills privately.

The reasons for the rise were not clear but the RAC suggested that it could be people venting frustrations during an age of austerity, mixed with mindlessness and in some cases drunkenness, sad The Times.

The growing wealth gap in the UK is viewed by politicians and commentators as an increasing challenge to social cohesion stoking resentment between the many struggling to pay their bills and the elite perceived to be flourishing financially and not sharing the pain of the policies of austerity, imposed by successive Conservative led governments since 2010 .

The richest 10% of households own nearly 900 times the wealth of the poorest 10%, and five times more than the least wealthy half of the population, who own just 9% of the UK's wealth.

Indeed, there is growing concern that the UK is on track to record its longest decline in living standards in six decades, a think tank has warned.

The Resolution Foundation said on Thursday (23 November) that UK households' budgets will be squeezed even more. Real disposable incomes are set to fall for 19 consecutive quarters, the most prolonged decline since records began over 60 years ago, with tax and benefits policies set to pile even more pressure on living standards and exacerbate inequality.