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Last Updated: Sunday, 7 November, 2004, 04:14 GMT
The one per cent shopping list

The incomes of Britain's top one per cent are soaring ahead - and most people who earn over 100,000 a year live in London and the South East.

The swish west London district of Kensington and Chelsea has the highest concentration of high earners in England and Wales, with central London - made up of the City of London and the City of Westminster - not far behind.

So how has London changed to accommodate the growth in high earners?

Panorama decided to take a tour of some of the London establishments where the high earners spend their cash.

Haircut 500
Twenty Pound notes
Money buys you a quick appointment with in demand Nicky Clarke

"Nicky is 500 for a fast track haircut," said Lesley Clarke, managing director of Nicky Clarke Salons.

"You get in within a week," she said. "Money talks."

The salon's clientele has changed in the last few years.

"It's the City people, and they've always been around," Lesley Clarke said. "But in the last five years I've seen more of the creative wealth coming in, younger people that are pop stars, fashion designers, artists, record producers working in the music industry."

"They definitely have a lot of money to spend, and are spending it."

She describes the 500 haircut as an "aspirational" cut - the haircut that everyone wants.

"An aspirational haircut is buying into luxury, buying into that Hollywood glamour lifestyle," she said, "If you come in here and have a 500 haircut, you think you're part of that elite."

The 200,000 toy
Bentley motor car
The Bentley is a toy for some

Close by in Berkeley Square luxury car dealer HR Owen has always sold to aristocrats - people who inherited their money.

But in the last five years they have seen a dramatic flood of new, earned money - according to director, Rodney Turner.

"I'm amazed how many clients come in here are earning well over 100,000 a year," he said.

"I mean they're talking such mega sums of money, the millions of pounds they earn and the bonuses are such large sums of money. 100,000 is not a lot of money anymore."

The dealership finds that as soon as bonuses are announced in the City, they get calls asking for cars worth up to 200,000. Turner said many clients spoke of their as "toys".

"We laugh about it but it is really a toy," he said.

The 2.25m starter home
Lord Andrew Hay
Lord Andrew Hay is selling multi-million pound starter homes

Knight Frank, one of Britain's top estate agents, has formed a department just for the "super-rich."

It's run by Lord Andrew Hay, who showed Panorama around a flat in Kensington.

He described it as "a three bedroom flat, recently refurbished in a modern style."

"It's two and a quarter million which equates to roughly a 1,000 a square foot," he said and he described it as a starter home for a first time buyer.

"One of the things we have noticed is that the top one per cent of income earners have stretched away now compared to the rest of the buyers or investors within the market," he said.

He said that ten years ago, even a top end high earner was on 250,000.

"Now many of them are over 1m and some of them indeed over 2m and beyond, with huge city bonuses being paid on top of that."

But he said the rest of the market, particularly away from London, has only seen modest income rises in line with inflation.

"There has always been what I could call a super rich category," he said. "But the way their wealth has now mushroomed is far beyond what we would have imagined a decade ago."

The 250 bottle of wine
Simon Berry
Simon Berry has noticed wine orders getting more extravagant

For three centuries next to St James Palace, dukes, duchesses and butlers shopped at wine merchants Berry Brothers and Rudd.

But in the last few years, Simon Berry has seen a new clientele for wines like luxury first growth claret.

"You've reached the stage now where it tends to be anybody from bankers, lawyers, accountants to pop stars to film stars," he said.

Their clientele also now includes a surprising number of people in their 20s. "They could be spending 1, 000 [to] 2,000 a case on wine," he said.

"That works out at about between 100 and 250 a bottle."

Condo Canyon
Professor Edward Soja
Edward Soja says luxury apartments on the Thames have created a 'gold coast'

The new high-earners are altering the very landscape of London.

The success of the UK's top one percent - and the way they're changing the country - is now being closely studied by experts like Professor Edward Soja of the University of California, Los Angeles.

"What we're seeing is an enormous concentration of wealth in one per cent of the population," he told Panorama.

"This elite is more strikingly visible in London than almost any other place I know."

Professor Soja - who is currently working at LSE in London - said redevelopment along the Thames masked growing inequality in London.

"Coming from Los Angeles I jumped on the boat cruise down the Thames and saw the usual sights," he said.

Condo canyon
The London boroughs of Hackney and Tower Hamlets are among England's five most deprived areas
Source: Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, Neighbourhood Renewal Unit

"Then suddenly was absolutely knocked over by what I call Condo Canyon, this whole stretch from the City to Canary Wharf and perhaps beyond, lined with luxury apartments."

"You have a kind of Gold Coast along the Thames," he said.

"But that's a screen, that's a mask, because right behind that you begin to get into the inner boroughs of London."

"You have Hackney and Tower Hamlets that are among the poorest areas of Britain," he said. "Centres of poverty located in close proximity to this extraordinary wealth.

Panorama: Winner takes all Britain was broadcast on Sunday, November 7, on BBC One at 22:15 GMT.

Winner takes all Britain
02 Nov 04 |  Panorama
Call for tax on the super rich
07 Nov 04 |  Panorama
High earners at a high price?
07 Nov 04 |  Panorama
10 facts: The super rich
07 Nov 04 |  Panorama
The 'superstar' effect
07 Nov 04 |  Panorama
Britain's elite earners
07 Nov 04 |  Panorama
Your comments
07 Nov 04 |  Panorama


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