Workers remove the scaffolding from the restored west dial of the clock on Elizabeth Tower, commonly known by the name of the bell Big Ben (Photo: TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)
Twice a year, households around the country set their clocks either an hour ahead or an hour behind, depending on the month - and and twice a year, many of us are left confused about which way we’re setting our clocks.
This is what you need to know about changing your clocks in 2022, and why we even do it in the first place.
When do the clocks change?
In the UK in 2022, the clocks went forward an hour on 27 March, at 1am, marking British Summer Time (BST).
Later this year, we’ll then set the clocks back by an hour on 30 October, at 2am, meaning the UK will be on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).
Why do we change the clocks twice a year?
British Summer Time (BST), also known as Daylight Saving Time, was initially designed to help people maximise their sunlight hours all throughout the year.
It was created following a campaign led by British builder, William Willett, in 1907, with the Summer Time Act of 1916. Willett wrote about his proposal in a pamphlet called The Waste of Daylight, which was published in 1907.
Willett (who is actually Coldplay frontman Chris Martin’s great-great-grandfather), proposed the idea to keep days longer in the summer so he could play golf for longer.
In the pamphlet, Willett wrote: “Nevertheless, standard time remains so fixed, that for nearly half the year the sun shines upon the land for several hours each day while we are asleep, and is rapidly nearing the horizon, having already passed its western limit, when we reach home after the work of the day is over.
“Under the most favourable circumstances, there then remains only a brief spell of declining daylight in which to spend the short period of leisure at our disposal.”
The new system was also thought to benefit more than just keen golfers, but also that making the most of natural sunlight would conserve energy, which was essential during World War I when coal was limited.
After much lobbying, Willett’s idea was eventually introduced to the UK a year after his death, and just after Germany and Austria also introduced the daylight saving system. Many other countries involved in WWI also followed suit.
Why is it controversial?
While some may think it’s a good idea to make the most out of our daylight, many believe that the system isn’t that beneficial and that it actually causes major problems - especially around Europe where there are three time zones.
In 2019, the European parliament voted to scrap Daylight Saving Time altogether.
Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission’s president at the time, told German public broadcaster ZDF: “The time change will be abolished.
“People do not want to keep changing their watches.”
Initially, the change was due to be implemented last year in 2021, but when EU member states were asked whether they wanted to commit to winter or summer time, an agreement couldn’t be reached.
Speaking to French broadcaster BFM TV, Fresh member of the European Parliament Karima Delli said: “We agree on the time change, but we are stuck on whether to stay on summer or winter time.
“We have a real problem.”
After it initially announced that the European Commission was set to scrap the seasonal clock changes, RoSPA said it was “in favour of this proposal” and called upon the UK government to stick to British Summertime all year round.
With the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic, the plan to do away with the changing of the clocks has stalled as other matters took priority.
In 2020, British charity the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) said that one of the consequences of changing the clocks is that “more people are killed and injured on the road because of darker evenings in the autumn and winter than would be if we abolished the clock change and adopted British Summertime all year”.
Last year, Prime Minister Boris Johnson was actually asked about whether the UK would be following in the footsteps of the EU and end the need to change our clocks twice a year.
At the time, he said: “I will have a look at that suggestion… but it seems unlikely to me.”
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