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Britons 'unaware of wealth gap'

Britons have little idea of how they compare to the rest of the country in terms of wealth - with nine-tenths believing they are worse off than they actually are, a new study has found.

The poll commissioned by Channel 4 saw people estimating how their income compared with the rest of the country's, and then check the accuracy after calculating the true result.

It found 91% had underestimated how wealthy they were compared to the rest of the UK - with two-thirds (67%) underestimating by more than 10%.

Only 2% of more than 1,000 who took part were able to accurately assess where they figured in comparison with the rest of the UK population

The poll was commissioned to accompany an hour-long programme How Rich Are You? - hosted by Richard Bacon - which is to be screened tomorrow at 8pm.

The survey also found that 61% said they felt life in Britain has worsened over the last 20 years, while just 13% said it had improved in the same period.

Despite pay freezes and austerity in modern Britain, 75% of adults said they were able to manage financially, with just 16% stating they struggled to get by.

A CEO in the UK has an average income of just under £118,000, but the vast majority of those surveyed (70%) thought that figure would be significantly higher.

Dr Faiza Shaheen, an economist who has contributed to How Rich Are You?, said: "These numbers serve as a reminder of how little we understand about each other's lives. We are failing to see the bigger picture - too busy trying to get by on our own wages to notice the growing gap between the very rich and the rest of us."

John Hay, commissioning editor for Channel 4, said: "I'm convinced that years from now we will look back on the growing gap between rich and poor as the most significant issue of our age, and I think there's a real hunger to understand it better - as well as to find out how much our neighbours earn."

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