The five richest families in the UK are wealthier than the bottom 20% of the entire population and the gap between the rich and the rest has grown significantly over the last two decades.

According to shocking research from charity Oxfam, just five UK households have more money than the poorest 12.6 million Britons – almost the same number of people as those living in households below the UK poverty line.

"Britain is becoming a deeply divided nation, with a wealthy elite who are seeing their incomes spiral up, whilst millions of families are struggling to make ends meet," said Ben Phillips, Oxfam's director of campaigns and policy.

"It's deeply worrying that these extreme levels of wealth inequality exist in Britain today, where just a handful of people have more money than millions struggling to survive on the breadline."

The research also revealed that over the past two decades the wealthiest 0.1% have seen their income grow nearly four times faster than the least well off 90% of the population.

That means a wealthy elite have seen their income grow by £24,000 a year in real terms.

In contrast, the bottom 90% of Britons' incomes have gone up by only a few pounds a week.

Oxfam, with the study in consideration, called on the government to "re-balance the books" by raising revenues from those who can most afford it, starting with the redoubling of efforts to clamp down on companies and individuals who avoid paying their fair share of tax and setting out a long-term strategy to raise the minimum wage to a living wage.