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Could the UK end Daylight Savings Time?

The EU voted to scrap a twice-yearly change of the clocks in 2019

Natasha Preskey
Tuesday 24 October 2023 06:40 BST
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Why parents should be thinking about daylight saving time now

On 29 October, the clocks go backwards one hour, signalling the beginning of shorter days and longer nights – and meaning Britons gain an extra hour in bed this Sunday.

However, Daylight Savings Time – when the days get lighter and longer – happens on the last Sunday of March each year, which was introduced in 1916 when the government introduced British Summer Time (BST) to help people spend more time outdoors in daylight.

But despite this intention, the practice hasn’t always proved popular over the years and, in 2019, the European parliament voted in favour of scrapping Daylight Savings Time altogether.

This change was due to take effect for the first time in 2021 but plans have been stalled.

EU member states were asked to decide whether they wanted to remain in winter or summer time once the change took place and they couldn’t agree.

But will the UK ever get rid of Daylight Savings Time?

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has called for the UK to do so many times, arguing that Daylight Saving Time can increase the risk of road accidents, due to more people driving during dark autumn and winter evenings.

The Society was in favour of the EU discontinuing DST, and urged the UK government to adopt British Summer Time on a permanent basis at the time.

"RoSPA is in favour of this proposal, and is calling for the government to adopt British Summer Time (GMT+1) all year," the society states.

"This would mean road users will no longer experience the sudden onset of darkness during their autumn commutes, potentially saving many lives."

Last week, Boris Johnson was asked during Prime Minister’s Questions whether the UK would ever follow the EU and abolish DST.

He said: “I will have a look at the suggestion … but it seems unlikely to me.”

After the European parliament voted to scrap the change of the clocks in 2019, a YouGov poll found that the majority of Brits were marginally in favour of keeping DST. 

More Brits (44 per cent) wanted to keep the current system, with 39 per cent voting in favour of ditching the change of the clocks.

Most survey respondents supported remaining in British Summer Time all year round if DST was to be scrapped, meaning more light on summer nights but less on winter mornings.

Last year, some experts suggested that households could save more than £400 a year on energy bills if clocks were not put back at the end of October.

Professor Aoife Foley, a clean energy expert at Queen’s University Belfast, told The Guardian last year that not putting the clocks back would help people with the cost of living crisis and reduce pressure on the National Grid during winter.

“By simply forgoing the winter DST in October, we save energy because it is brighter in the evening during winter, so we reduce commercial and residential electrical demand as people leave work earlier, and go home earlier, meaning less lighting and heating is needed,” she said.

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