Where were you in 1982?

Where were you in 1982? Some readers will not have been conceived, most will have memories, mine are of my second year at university, punting on the Cam, breaking into May Balls – my grant covered just about everything.

The average salary in 1982 was just over £5,000pa , the average house cost £31,000.

1982 was the last time inflation was at today’s rate and though we’ve had interest rates as high as 15% since then, we have never seen prices in the shops and on our utility bills rise so fast since then.

The cost of living has been an increasing issue for many people in this country who haven’t shared in the boom in share and property prices over the past 40 years. I mean the adult population that started work in the 1960s , 70s and 1980s who are are now in, at or approaching the point where they want to stop work.

There is a section of society who would like us to think that stopping work is an old fashioned idea.

Retirement, like inflation, may seem a thing of the past those building the Metaverse. But reality is not virtual for people who have to walk the shopping centers and petrol forecourts from Peterhead to Plymouth.

And for those who have reached the point where they have no work, either through choice or circumstance, there is only income and capital to pay the rising bills. Capital has a habit of getting spent quickly, income – when it comes as a pension – doesn’t.

Lessons not taught in the Metaverse clearly include those of Charles Dickens’ Mr Micawber.

Because you are on social media does not make you exempt from the grim reality of financial misery.

Pence not bit coin

Theo, who hails from Edinburgh, is creating a brave new world fit for our children to live in. It is a world I would like to live in too – we need Theos, the Metaverse is a good place.

But is is a virtual place, a place cut off from the grim realities of Mr Micawber’s penury. The necessary antidote to penury, is solvency. That is why we have a benefits system in this country which is designed to keep us in pennies, if not in bit coin.

My hope is that we will look back in 2032 and read the headline above with amazement. Did it really get that bad?

But that is idle speculation, right now it is that bad. People will not be coping, not me – not Theo – but the people who don’t post on linked in, the people struggling with the heating/eating thing.

These are the people that Jack Munro, Martin Lewis and many others who might in yesteryear be called social philanthropists are fighting for. If we are caring about society, and we say we do when we write our ESG policies, we should be caring about the here and now.

The here and now sees £1.7bn pa not getting to people by way of pension top-ups (aka credits) , not being claimed by the people who need pensions the most, those 66 or over with insufficient income and capital to stay the right side of Mr Micawber’s equation.

Please don’t tell these people they don’t need extra pension. Please do tell these people they can and should claim pension credit. Pensions matter, they matter more the older you get. Being 50 does not mean you are old, being 66 doesn’t mean you are old. But getting to 66 and not having access to income or capital, severely reduces your chance of growing old (at least in happiness).

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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5 Responses to Where were you in 1982?

  1. John Mather says:

    Interesting article I was in my 10th year as a pension adviser (salesman) having left University 10 years earlier.

  2. Dr+Robin+Rowles says:

    I was a computer programmer working in Fortran – 2 years on from being awarded a PhD and 10 years short of becoming a Trustee of the company’s pension scheme (a director of the trustee company). Memories of the 15% mortgage rates of the early 1970s still relatively fresh. My employer at the time of these mortgage rates had a wonderful scheme whereby they paid employees interest over and above 8%. They were paying nearly as much as I was! I don’t have a mortgage any more, but we really do need to avoid going back there!

  3. Derek Scott says:

    It was a different time, and I hadn’t met my wife yet.

    I was in my seventh year (of eleven) with Arthur Andersen, based in Glasgow but also working in Aberdeen, Leeds/Sheffield, London and Geneva.

    My desk diary for that year shows various football and rugby games attended in Scotland and England, and even a week at the French Open Tennis at Roland-Garros.

    Concerts I attended included Adam & The Ants (in Glasgow), Carole King (in Manchester), Barbara Dickson (in Glasgow) and Simon & Garfunkel (in London).

    The most memorable sport of the year – but my desk diary does not record two of us Androids bunking off to watch it on afternoon TV – was Italy’s 3-2 win over Brazil in the 1982 World Cup.

  4. Peter Tompkins says:

    I started work in 1982 at a life office in the City. It’s where I wanted to work (and could afford to live close in those days!). Life offices are no longer there. They moved to the country. And now of course they are all wfh. So it’s a very different landscape today both for getting to meet your new colleagues and affording somewhere to make the h in wfh.

  5. con keating says:

    I was based in New York heading the Americas division of Dean Witter – we had recently been acquired by Sears Roebuck – who were massively interested in us as we were the most profitable division of the firm by far. In May and June, at the time of the Falklands war I was travelling on business in South America – Yes, including Buenos Aires. An interesting trip that, which included spending a weekend in pokey in Uruguay.

    That was the summer when we created a junk bond capability – and also something I deeply regret, that was the summer I rented several floors of the World Trade Centre to accommodate our back office staff.

    The life-style of a newly single man in Manhattan was one of extremes – weekends were spent in the Hamptons in summer and Sugarbush in Vermont in winter – (dinner at the American Hotel in Sag Harbor was always memorable) – Burning the candle at both ends, clubbing most nights, was the order of the day. I had my first heart attacks that summer.

    UK mortgages may indeed have been 15% but most bank employees had preferential rates – 3% was common – and of course there was the prospect of MIRAS (mortgage interest relief at source) being introduced, and it duly was.

    Inflation was really not an issue for me personally, but it was the dominant issue for our investment trading and advice.

    And at the end of the year, I was one of the co-founders of Quadrex, running the Americas again. My pension was a 401K arrangement, but tax shelters were the dominant concern. I still own a mothballed West Virginian coal-mine from one of those!

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