£100 in 1978 is worth £577.50 today

Why a pound today is worth only 17% of a pound in 1978

Updated: June 11, 2020

According to the Office for National Statistics composite price index, today's prices in 2020 are 477.50% higher than average prices since 1978. This means that a pound today only buys 17.32% of what it could buy in 1978. The British pound experienced an average inflation rate of 4.26% per year during this period, causing the real value of a pound to decrease.

In other words, £100 in 1978 is equivalent in purchasing power to about £577.50 in 2020, a difference of £477.50 over 42 years.

The 1978 inflation rate was 8.30%. The current year-over-year inflation rate (2019 to 2020) is now 1.50%1. If this number holds, £100 today will be equivalent in buying power to £101.50 next year.


Inflation from 1978 to 2020
Cumulative price change 477.50%
Average inflation rate 4.26%
Converted amount (£100 base) £577.50
Price difference (£100 base) £477.50
CPI in 1978 197.100
CPI in 2020 1,138.243
Inflation in 1978 8.30%
Inflation in 2020 1.50%

GBP Inflation since 1750
Annual Rate, the Office for National Statistics CPI
Download

Buying power of £100 in 1978

This chart shows a calculation of buying power equivalence for £100 in 1978 (price index tracking began in 1750).

For example, if you started with £100, you would need to end with £577.50 in order to "adjust" for inflation (sometimes refered to as "beating inflation").

When £100 is equivalent to £577.50 over time, that means that the "real value" of a single U.K. pound decreases over time. In other words, a pound will pay for fewer items at the store.

This effect explains how inflation erodes the value of a pound over time. By calculating the value in 1978 dollars, the chart below shows how £100 is worth less over 42 years.

According to the Office for National Statistics, each of these GBP amounts below is equal in terms of what it could buy at the time:

Pound inflation: 1978-2020
Year Pound Value Inflation Rate
1978 £100.00 8.30%
1979 £113.39 13.39%
1980 £133.79 17.99%
1981 £149.67 11.87%
1982 £162.56 8.61%
1983 £170.02 4.59%
1984 £178.49 4.98%
1985 £189.35 6.08%
1986 £195.79 3.40%
1987 £203.96 4.17%
1988 £213.95 4.90%
1989 £230.59 7.78%
1990 £252.41 9.46%
1991 £267.22 5.87%
1992 £277.22 3.74%
1993 £281.63 1.59%
1994 £288.43 2.41%
1995 £298.43 3.47%
1996 £305.63 2.41%
1997 £315.22 3.14%
1998 £326.03 3.43%
1999 £331.05 1.54%
2000 £340.84 2.96%
2001 £346.88 1.77%
2002 £352.66 1.67%
2003 £362.86 2.89%
2004 £373.67 2.98%
2005 £384.22 2.82%
2006 £396.50 3.20%
2007 £413.50 4.29%
2008 £429.98 3.99%
2009 £427.70 -0.53%
2010 £447.44 4.61%
2011 £470.73 5.20%
2012 £485.84 3.21%
2013 £500.61 3.04%
2014 £512.43 2.36%
2015 £517.50 0.99%
2016 £526.48 1.74%
2017 £545.36 3.58%
2018 £558.90 2.48%
2019 £568.96 1.80%
2020 £577.50 1.50%*
* Compared to previous annual rate. Not final. See inflation summary for latest 12-month trailing value.
Click to show 36 more rows

This conversion table shows various other 1978 amounts in today's pounds, based on the 477.50% change in prices:

Conversion Table: Value of a pound today
Initial value Equivalent value
£1 pound in 1978 £5.77 pounds today
£5 pounds in 1978 £28.87 pounds today
£10 pounds in 1978 £57.75 pounds today
£50 pounds in 1978 £288.75 pounds today
£100 pounds in 1978 £577.50 pounds today
£500 pounds in 1978 £2,887.48 pounds today
£1,000 pounds in 1978 £5,774.95 pounds today
£5,000 pounds in 1978 £28,874.77 pounds today
£10,000 pounds in 1978 £57,749.54 pounds today
£50,000 pounds in 1978 £288,747.68 pounds today
£100,000 pounds in 1978 £577,495.36 pounds today
£500,000 pounds in 1978 £2,887,476.82 pounds today
£1,000,000 pounds in 1978 £5,774,953.63 pounds today

How to Calculate Inflation Rate for £100 since 1978

Our calculations use the following inflation rate formula to calculate the change in value between 1978 and today:

CPI today CPI in 1978
×
1978 GBP value
=
Today's value

Then plug in historical CPI values. The U.K. CPI was 197.1 in the year 1978 and 1138.2433607545 in 2020:

1138.2433607545197.1
×
£100
=
£577.50

£100 in 1978 has the same "purchasing power" or "buying power" as £577.50 in 2020.

To get the total inflation rate for the 42 years between 1978 and 2020, we use the following formula:

CPI in 2020 - CPI in 1978CPI in 1978
×
100
=
Cumulative inflation rate (42 years)

Plugging in the values to this equation, we get:

1138.2433607545 - 197.1197.1
×
100
=
477%

Data Source & Citation

Raw data for these calculations comes from the composite price index published by the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS). A composite index is created by combining price data from several different published sources, both official and unofficial. The Consumer Price Index, normally used to compute inflation, has only been tracked since 1988. All inflation calculations after 1988 use the Office for National Statistics' Consumer Price Index, except for 2017, which is based on The Bank of England's forecast.

You may use the following MLA citation for this page: “Value of 1978 pounds today | UK Inflation Calculator.” Official Inflation Data, Alioth Finance, 2 Jul. 2020, https://www.officialdata.org/uk/inflation/1978.

Special thanks to QuickChart for their chart image API, which is used for chart downloads.

in2013dollars.com is a reference website maintained by the Official Data Foundation.


Ian Webster

About the author

Ian Webster is an engineer and data expert based in San Mateo, California. He has worked for Google, NASA, and consulted for governments around the world on data pipelines and data analysis. Disappointed by the lack of clear resources on the impacts of inflation on economic indicators, Ian believes this website serves as a valuable public tool. Ian earned his degree in Computer Science from Dartmouth College.

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Inflation from 1978 to 2020
Cumulative price change 477.50%
Average inflation rate 4.26%
Converted amount (£100 base) £577.50
Price difference (£100 base) £477.50
CPI in 1978 197.100
CPI in 2020 1,138.243
Inflation in 1978 8.30%
Inflation in 2020 1.50%