Twice a year, every year, the changing of the clocks debate begins. So is it time to finally drop daylight saving and stick to British Summer Time all year round? Boris Johnson thinks so: the future Prime Minister weighed in on the subject back in 2011, claiming BST would ‘expand the economy and cheer everyone up’. Boris is right on both points, not least on the economic case for ditching the old habit of changing the clocks.
Dark winter evenings, made longer by daylight saving, make around half of Brits feel more depressed, according to one poll. Other surveys suggesting we’d exercise more were it lighter longer. Perhaps this point should be taken with a pinch of salt; is it really darkness, rather than the cold, wet weather, that stops us heading out for a jog? But it’s difficult to doubt that an extra hour of light on a winter’s evening would allow more people to squeeze in some form of activity that could be beneficial to our wellbeing and the economy. Perhaps Brits would be more likely to pop to the pub, or head to the shops if it was lighter for longer? Retail and hospitality, both sectors knocked sideways by Covid, would be two big beneficiaries of lighter evenings.
Could dropping daylight saving also make us safer? There were an average of 278 more personal injury collisions in the two weeks after the clocks went back, compared to the previous fortnight, according to analysis of police data in the six years to 2018.
If we’re walking to our cars or homes in the dark, we’re also easier targets for criminals. Insurance figures suggest burglaries spike by more than a third after the clocks go back. One study from the United States found that, when clocks go forward, robbery rates for the entire day fall an average of seven