Millionaires are abandoning the UK in droves, new research shows

Wealth

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LONDON — A record number of millionaires is expected to leave the United Kingdom this year, according to new research, with this year’s general election expected to further exacerbate the exodus.

The Henley Private Wealth Migration Report indicates that Britain will experience a net loss of 9,500 high-net-worth individuals in 2024 — more than double last year’s figure of 4,200 (which in itself was a record-high figure).

The U.K. came second to only China in Henley’s ranking, with the eastern Asian giant expected to see net outflows of 15,200 millionaires in 2024.

The projections mark a stark turnaround for Britain, once viewed as a prime location for the world’s super-rich. Henley, a consultancy that tracks migration trends, noted that between the 1950s and the early 2000s, the country saw swathes of rich families relocate to its shores from across mainland Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. 

“However, this trend began to reverse around a decade ago as more millionaires began to leave the country and fewer came in,” it said in its report.

“Notably, during the six-year period from 2017 to 2023 post-Brexit, the U.K. lost a total of 16,500 millionaires to migration. Provisional estimates for 2024 are even more concerning,” the research added.

Hannah White, CEO of the Institute for Government think tank, noted that the millionaire exodus could be accelerated by this year’s general election.

Recent polls give the left-of-center Labour Party a striking lead over its rival right-wing Conservative Party. A poll by Savanta for The Telegraph newspaper, published at the weekend, gave Labour 46% of the vote, more than double the Conservative’s 21%, with populist right-wing party Reform not far behind with 13%.

Labour has positioned itself as a pro-business party with a focus on wealth creation. However, its election manifesto is also clear that it plans to target loopholes benefitting the wealthy in order to better fund public services. It has pledged to close tax loopholes for so-called nondomiciled individuals, reduce tax avoidance, remove tax breaks for independent schools and raise taxes on the purchases of residential properties by non-U.K. residents.

“The outflow of high-net-worth individuals already generated by the economic and political context is now being accelerated by policy decisions ahead of the election,” White wrote in Henley’s report.

“On top of the 40% duty already imposed on estates above a £325,000 [$412,420] threshold, the Conservative government has adopted the thrust of the Labour opposition’s policy of ending the U.K.’s non-dom tax regime from 2025. And for those educating their children in the U.K.’s well-regarded private school sector, Labour’s commitment to removing the exemption from 20% VAT enjoyed by private schools will be a further unwelcome development,” White added.

The number of millionaires in the U.K. has fallen 8% over the past decade, according to Henley, in stark contrast to most other major economies across Europe and beyond. The number of high-net-worth individuals in Germany, for example, has risen 15% over the period, while the number in the U.S. jumped 62%.

— CNBC’s Jenni Reid contributed to this report.

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