Autumn is well under way in the UK, and the nights are getting darker, signalling that our clocks will change soon.
In the UK, our clocks go forward an hour on the last Sunday in March, and then go back an hour on the last Sunday in October, due to Daylight Saving Time.
So what date do the clocks go back in 2021 - and when will they go forward again? This is what you need to know.
When do the clocks go back?
In the UK, the clocks will be changed on 31 October at 2am, going back an hour.
Earlier this year, we set the clocks forward on 28 March. When the clocks are forward an hour, that is called British Summer Time (BST), and when the clocks go back the UK will be on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).
In 2022, we will put the clocks forward an hour at 1am on 27 March, and we’ll put them back again on 30 October.
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. It was hoped 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 in the UK a year after his death, and just after Germany and Austria had introduced Daylight Saving Time.
Will the UK ever stop changing its clocks?
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. Initially, the change was due to be implemented this 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.
British charity the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) says 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”.
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.
Earlier this 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.
He said: “I will have a look at that suggestion… but it seems unlikely to me.”
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