£100 in 1981 is worth £385.85 today

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Why a pound today is worth only 26% of a pound in 1981

Updated: September 11, 2020

According to the Office for National Statistics composite price index, today's prices in 2020 are 285.85% higher than average prices since 1981. This means that a pound today only buys 25.92% of what it could buy in 1981. The British pound experienced an average inflation rate of 3.52% per year during this period, causing the real value of a pound to decrease.

In other words, £100 in 1981 is equivalent in purchasing power to about £385.85 in 2020, a difference of £285.85 over 39 years.

The 1981 inflation rate was 11.87%. 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.

 Cumulative price change 285.85% Average inflation rate 3.52% Converted amount (£100 base) £385.85 Price difference (£100 base) £285.85 CPI in 1981 295.000 CPI in 2020 1,138.243 Inflation in 1981 11.87% Inflation in 2020 1.50%

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

Buying power of £100 in 1981

This chart shows a calculation of buying power equivalence for £100 in 1981 (price index tracking began in 1750).

For example, if you started with £100, you would need to end with £385.85 in order to "adjust" for inflation (sometimes refered to as "beating inflation").

When £100 is equivalent to £385.85 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 1981 dollars, the chart below shows how £100 is worth less over 39 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: 1981-2020
Year Pound Value Inflation Rate
1981 £100.00 11.87%
1982 £108.61 8.61%
1983 £113.59 4.59%
1984 £119.25 4.98%
1985 £126.51 6.08%
1986 £130.81 3.40%
1987 £136.27 4.17%
1988 £142.95 4.90%
1989 £154.07 7.78%
1990 £168.64 9.46%
1991 £178.54 5.87%
1992 £185.22 3.74%
1993 £188.17 1.59%
1994 £192.71 2.41%
1995 £199.39 3.47%
1996 £204.20 2.41%
1997 £210.61 3.14%
1998 £217.83 3.43%
1999 £221.19 1.54%
2000 £227.73 2.96%
2001 £231.76 1.77%
2002 £235.63 1.67%
2003 £242.44 2.89%
2004 £249.66 2.98%
2005 £256.71 2.82%
2006 £264.92 3.20%
2007 £276.27 4.29%
2008 £287.29 3.99%
2009 £285.76 -0.53%
2010 £298.95 4.61%
2011 £314.51 5.20%
2012 £324.61 3.21%
2013 £334.47 3.04%
2014 £342.37 2.36%
2015 £345.76 0.99%
2016 £351.76 1.74%
2017 £364.37 3.58%
2018 £373.42 2.48%
2019 £380.14 1.80%
2020 £385.85 1.50%*
* Compared to previous annual rate. Not final. See inflation summary for latest 12-month trailing value.
Click to show 33 more rows

This conversion table shows various other 1981 amounts in today's pounds, based on the 285.85% change in prices:

Conversion Table: Value of a pound today
Initial value Equivalent value
£1 pound in 1981 £3.86 pounds today
£5 pounds in 1981 £19.29 pounds today
£10 pounds in 1981 £38.58 pounds today
£50 pounds in 1981 £192.92 pounds today
£100 pounds in 1981 £385.85 pounds today
£500 pounds in 1981 £1,929.23 pounds today
£1,000 pounds in 1981 £3,858.45 pounds today
£5,000 pounds in 1981 £19,292.26 pounds today
£10,000 pounds in 1981 £38,584.52 pounds today
£50,000 pounds in 1981 £192,922.60 pounds today
£100,000 pounds in 1981 £385,845.21 pounds today
£500,000 pounds in 1981 £1,929,226.04 pounds today
£1,000,000 pounds in 1981 £3,858,452.07 pounds today

How to Calculate Inflation Rate for £100 since 1981

Our calculations use the following inflation rate formula to calculate the change in value between 1981 and today:

CPI today CPI in 1981
×
1981 GBP value
=
Today's value

Then plug in historical CPI values. The U.K. CPI was 295 in the year 1981 and 1138.2433607545 in 2020:

1138.2433607545295
×
£100
=
£385.85

£100 in 1981 has the same "purchasing power" or "buying power" as £385.85 in 2020.

To get the total inflation rate for the 39 years between 1981 and 2020, we use the following formula:

CPI in 2020 - CPI in 1981CPI in 1981
×
100
=
Cumulative inflation rate (39 years)

Plugging in the values to this equation, we get:

1138.2433607545 - 295295
×
100
=
286%

Politics and news often influence economic performance. Here's what was happening at the time:

• Ronald Reagan is inaugurated as the President of the United States.
• IBM introduces its first PC - Personal Computer.
• United States Center for Disease Control reports that pneumonia is affecting five homosexual men in Los Angeles, which marks the beginning of the AIDS epidemic.

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 1981 pounds today | UK Inflation Calculator.” Official Inflation Data, Alioth Finance, 1 Oct. 2020, https://www.officialdata.org/uk/inflation/1981?amount=&startYear=&future_pct=.

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.