In the early hours of Sunday morning, the clocks spring forward an hour, making the mornings darker and the evenings longer.
Hurrah. Now let’s never change the clocks back.
For years now lobbyists have been urging policymakers to adopt Daylight Savings Time – also called British Summer Time – on a permanent basis, essentially aligning UK watches with clocks on the continent. This would put an end to gloomy winter evenings, making it feel a bit more like summer all year round.
In 2011, Conservative MP Rebecca Harris floated a bill calling for year-round daylight savings. A YouGov poll that same year found that 53pc of Britons supported moving clocks forward an hour permanently compared with 32pc who opposed the change. The proposals were met less warmly by the Scottish population; Alex Salmond called the campaign an attempt to “plunge Scotland into morning darkness”.
The complaints are founded; in the winter, the sun wouldn’t rise until 10am in parts of Scotland. The country’s 1,000 or so dairy farmers, who wake up before 5am, would have to work for hours in the dark. Other farmers and construction workers, who need sunlight to perform their jobs, would end up working later into the evening.
Of course, we could all just get up an hour earlier in the morning, regardless of time. But as the economist Milton Friedman pointed out, in an analogy for foreign exchange rates, it’s easier to change one thing – the time, in this instance – than dozens of habits of thousands of people.
To celebrate the start Daylight Savings Time, here are five economic reasons to stick to the extra-hour policy all year round.
1. Energy Savings
Conserving energy was one of the main reasons summer clocks were moved forward in the first place; Britain changed its clocks during the Second World War to help save electricity and boost working hours.
A report from the Policy Studies Institute estimated that consumers could save £260m a year on electricity bills – and that was in the mid-1990s. More recently, researchers at the University of Cambridge found that an extra daily hour of sunlight in winter could save £485m each year, as people would use less electricity and heating. That has the same effect as eliminating the carbon emissions of 70,000 people.
Elizabeth Garnsey, the academic behind the report, estimated that 0.5pc of Britain’s energy production is currently wasted in winter months. “This is because it tends to get light in the mornings before most people are awake for quite a large part of the GMT period, whereas everybody is up and about in the early evening,” she said.
2. Business Benefits
Moving clocks forward by an hour would bring the UK in line with Central European Time, which means London would work the same business hours as Brussels, Paris, Frankfurt and Milan.
For businesses that operate internationally, this could cut down staff overtime costs – not to mention any confusion over scheduling, from conference calls to deliveries.
It would also give the UK an extra hour of overlap with Beijing, Tokyo and other major import and export markets in the growing economies of Asia.
3. Safety Improvements
Though some parents have voiced concerns about children travelling to school in the dark, winter daylight savings could improve safety on the roads and reduce crime. A three-year experiment to keep British Summer Time year-round, held between 1968 and 1971, found an 11pc reduction in road casualties in England and Wales during the hours affected by the time change – and a 17pc reduction in Scotland.
There are roughly 50pc more fatal and serious injuries among adults travelling during evening rush hour than the morning peak, and three times as many injuries among children.
An extra hour of evening daylight could save the NHS £200m a year in accident related costs. In addition, the Home Office believes crime would see a 3pc drop, as crime is more likely to be committed in the evening than in the morning.
4. Tourism Boost
Lighter and longer winter evenings could provide an annual boost of £3.5bn to the tourist industry, according to Tourism Alliance.
The yearly income boost from the 60,000 to 80,000 extra jobs this would create could amount to £720m. Business would be inclined to stay open longer, while tourists and locals alike would have more time in the day to spend on outdoor recreational activities.
A report from 2010 claimed people would gain 235 hours of post-work daylight each year. “The tourism industry has been crying out for extra daylight saving for years,” said Conservative MP Rebecca Harris.
5. British Sporting Success
The Football Association, The Lawn Tennis Association and the England and Wales Cricket Board have all backed year-round daylight savings, and with good reason. The extra hour of daytime increases the time available for exercise, makes people more likely to attend evening sporting events and means professional athletes can train for longer. In the 1980s, the golf industry estimated that one extra month of daylight savings could generate up to $400m (£246.6m) a year in extra sales and fees.
Daylight Savings Time “affects everything from Mid-East terrorism to the attendance at London music halls, voter turnout to street crime, gardening to the profits of radio stations”, said David Prerau, author of Saving the Daylight: Why We Put the Clocks Forward.
This debate stretches years into the past, and the future of British time is still unclear. As they say, only time will tell. Until we are once more plunged into darkness, however, enjoy the next six months of lighter evenings, cheaper energy bills, reduced crime and maybe even some British sporting wins.
Please view the link below to read the full article as posted by “The Telegraph” about “The clocks spring forward: here’s why we should never change them back.”