GMT: time for a change?

The Government is considering moving the clocks forward an extra hour. But will it help UK plc banish the dark days?

by Dave Waller
Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012
The proposals, which will be published by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport later this week, would make mornings darker but add an extra hour of daylight in the evenings. This would allow most people to experience a whole 235 extra hours of daylight after work every year, according to Time To Change The Clocks, a study compiled late last year by Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood - while also boosting visitor numbers and encouraging more sports and outdoor activities. What's not to like?

But how much difference would this bright idea actually make to UK plc? More than you’d think, perhaps. A 2008 paper by the Policy Studies Institute reckons it would bring an extra £3bn into the economy through added tourism, while creating around 80,000 much-needed new jobs. Campaign group Lighter Later also pressed the commercial angle: the change would bring ‘an extra million pounds in turnover for my business, and at a guess, 50 or 70 extra jobs in year one,’ said one Philip Miller. As the owner of Southend Fun Park, he’s clearly the go-to guy for comment on Government policy.

Another supposed plus-point is that it would also move the UK in line with Central European Time, better aligning our business hours with those on the continent. Although since anyone wishing to coordinate themselves with Europe could of course do it now by simply opening and closing an hour earlier, that’s not exactly an insurmountable problem either way.

The PM said last summer that he’d be up for the move, as long as people were happy with it. But although some of us may be attracted by the idea of more post-work barbecues, spare a thought for poor old Scotland, which would be worst-hit by the extended morning darkness. There are fears of bleary-eyed drivers having accidents as they drive to work, while Shetland farmers are worried about padding around their fields in the pitch black.

Similar complaints put the kybosh on an earlier experiment in clock-shifting, which took place between 1968 and 1971. Yet subsequent research showed the temporary change had actually delivered a net fall in deaths and injuries on the roads.

Here at MT we support any move that could potentially boost British business (and which provide us a chance to get some valuable Vitamin D during the winter months). But you can't really blame those whose working day is skewed towards the early morning for not giving the plan the time of day.

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