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Northern Ireland loses 1,000 millionaires in one year

By Rachel Martin

Published 30/08/2016

Liam Neeson
Liam Neeson
Eddie Irvine

Northern Ireland has 13,000 millionaires - one of the lowest totals in the UK, according to new research.

And that is 1,000 fewer than the year before, the latest Barclays Prosperity Map reveals.

Super-rich NI stars Rory McIlroy, Liam Neeson and Eddie Irvine have wealth only a few can aspire to, but already more than 2% of people in the UK have at least a million in the bank.

However, Northern Ireland's dwindling population of millionaires puts it third from bottom among the UK's regions, according to the latest figures for 2015.

It just managed to beat Wales and the North East, which have 12,000 millionaires each.

The report showed that the UK's richest prefer to set up base in London, and the top five regions were all in England.

London had over a quarter of UK millionaires, followed by the South East, where one in five of the wealthiest resided, and Eastern England, where just under one in eight millionaires lived.

Overall, the UK's millionaire population soared 34% in five years to 689,000. However, a smaller proportion are now living in Northern Ireland, Scotland, the East of England, the South East and the South West.

But there is some good financial news for the province.

Despite our low number of millionaires, Barclay's named the province the fifth most prosperous part of the UK. The bank's report calculates regional scores on factors such as gross domestic product (GDP), house prices, charitable giving, working hours and average house prices.

High exam attainment and the largest proportion of charity givers boosted the region's ranking, despite lower than average house prices and salaries.

Barclays said every region in Britain was now more prosperous than the previous year.

Colm Murphy - who has compiled The Sunday Times Rich List for Ireland for the past 20 years - said there were a number of factors working in Northern Ireland's favour.

"Firstly, there is a relatively high proportion of farms owned without debt compared to other parts of the UK," he said.

"Many farms would easily be worth over £1m, making their owners millionaires (although few would see themselves as such given their wealth is all tied up in their business).

"Secondly, in Belfast and its surrounding 20-mile radius, again you have a lot of people owning large houses with good land surrounding them (half-acre to acre). These have spiralled in value in the past 15 years and most are easily worth over £1m. If you look at any town in Northern Ireland, all the shops, offices and industrial buildings are largely owned by individuals and often debt-free. Many are worth over £1m or close to it.

"Thirdly, you have an increasing number of entrepreneurs who own companies or stakes in companies or have sold them. Again, many are worth over £1m.

"You also have old money passed through generations - harder to measure, but again significant given that in the 1900s Northern Ireland was one of the most prosperous and industrious parts of the British empire.

"This money is often still held by family members through property or share portfolios."

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