THIS YEAR’s Sunday Times Rich List has unveiled the 20 wealthiest people in the North West with the revelation that Britain’s super rich have lost a combined total of £54 billion in the last two months.

This comes as the coronavirus outbreak hits the economy across a variety of different sectors leaving as many as six million workers fearing for their jobs and communities in East Lancashire particularly exposed.

The 29-year-old Duke of Westminster and the Grosvenor family came top of the North Western rich list, with property and hereditary wealth totalling a value of £10.29 billion, which in contrast to the vast majority of people in the region including some of his fellow billionaires has grown substantially in the last year, by around £136 million.

Lancashire Telegraph:

Billionaire: The Duke of Westminster was revealed to be the richest person in the North West with wealth of £10.29 billion

List compiler Robert Watts said: "Ever since the financial crisis of 2008-9, Britain's wealthiest people have become richer and richer.

"Covid-19 has called time on their golden period.

“This year's rich list paints a picture of Britain on the brink of calamity - two months after lockdown and already billions of pounds have been wiped out.”

After the Duke, the richest family in the region was revealed to be that of Tom Morris, worth £4.1 billion and owners of the Home Bargains chain with more than 500 stores nationwide.

Mohsin and Zuber Issa came next with a £3.56 billion fortune derived from their Euro Garages business, followed by the Arora family, with their £2.11 billion made from the B&M discount store chain.

Rounding up the top five came MediaCityUK landlord John Whittaker with a fortune worth £1.6 billion, a decline of around £350 million since last year.

Mr Whittaker was not alone in losing out, with Salford born brothers Fred and Peter Done of gambling company BetfFred at number eight in the list having lost £50 million since last year and clothing tycoon Philip Day just behind them at number nine having lost around £60 million.

Mr Watts said: "You may not like the super-rich, but it is hard to deny that our economy will need the jobs they create and the taxes they and their companies pay if we are to escape a prolonged recession that causes further misery to millions."

Despite this, the losses of the super-rich will not have been felt as keenly as comparatively smaller sums lost by families across the region as a result of the economic impact of the virus, which has hit comparatively poorer regions like the North West at almost twice the rate of wealthier ones, according to the office for national statistics.

As recently as 2019, a study by end child poverty revealed that nearly half of all children in Blackburn live in poverty, while the town’s spending power has declined by nearly a third since 2010.

Lancashire Telegraph:

Struggling: The Duke's wealth stands in sharp contrast to the majority of North West residents in towns like Blackburn, where nearly half of children were found to live in poverty

It is these conditions that has made North Western towns like Blackburn particularly susceptible to the virus’ effects on both public health and local economies, throwing the trials of the very wealthiest into sharp relief.

Clinical professor of public health and epidemiology at Manchester University Arpana Verma said: “We’ve done analysis on the north-south divide and there are all sorts of issues we’re seeing playing out in coronavirus which I think were predictable.

“We know we have some of the most deprived communities and, looking at the breakdown, it would appear coronavirus follows the same pattern as other diseases we are interested in.”