The Office for National Statistics’ findings that only a “small few” are inheriting most of the wealth passed down the generations comes amid warnings that relying on hopes of a windfall is a “risky” strategy as the population faces increasing costs to pay for old age.
An estimated £75bn worth of assets including cash, property and jewellery was handed down in the UK over the two years between 2008 and 2010, according to the ONS.
But its report said that “the inheritances received by a small few had a disproportionately higher value than the majority”.
It said three-quarters (76 per cent) of assets inherited over the two-year period, equating to £57bn, went to just one fifth of people who had received an inheritance.
One in 27 (3.6 per cent) people, or 1.6 million adults, received an inheritance worth at least £1,000 between 2008-10, the ONS’s Inheritance in Great Britain report said. Half of inheritors received less than £10,000 and one in 10 received £125,000 or more.
Looking at how inheritances could change, the report pointed out the proportion of people owning their own homes rather than renting has been rising over the decades and peaked at seven in 10 (69 per cent) in 2001.
“This rise should increase the number of inheritances as more individuals possess a tangible asset to leave to others,” it said.
But future generations are also likely to see the size of their inheritance pots eroded by the costs of caring for an ageing population.
The report said: “Such expenses are likely to diminish, if not exhaust assets which might traditionally have been passed on to others.”