NEXT week sees the culmination of this year’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations to mark seventy years of the Queen on the throne.

As part of that, the nation is being given an extra bank holiday. In a move reminiscent of the episode of Blackadder II when Edmund Blackadder is made chief executioner, Spring Bank Holiday has been moved from Monday to Thursday, which added to Friday’s Jubilee Bank Holiday gives everyone half the week off.

Spring Bank Holiday, which normally falls on the last Monday in May, used to be called Whit Monday, and originally fell on the day after Whitsun Sunday, the seventh Sunday after Easter.

It was only in 1971 that it settled on an end of May date. The year 1971, coincidentally, was the hundredth anniversary of the original 1871 Bank Holiday Act, when the government formalised the first four days off in England: Easter Monday, Whit Monday, the first Monday in August and Boxing Day (Christmas Day and Good Friday were already deemed public holidays).

Since then, changes to the bank holiday schedule have been minimal. In 1965, the August Bank Holiday was moved to the end of the month to see if this would help extend the holiday season.

In 1971, New Year’s Day was added to the list: this was followed in 1978 by May Day bank holiday. As with next Friday, the only subsequent additions have been one-offs for events such as jubilees or royal weddings.

But why can’t we have an additional day off every year? The UK’s eight days is pretty stingy by international comparison.

Researchers in 2019 found that the average number of paid public holidays across 195 countries is eleven. Most European countries give workers between ten and fourteen days off.

The traditional argument against more bank holidays is that it is bad for business. Back in 2011, when an extra day’s holiday was given for William and Kate’s wedding, the Bank of England gave that as the cause for the subsequent 0.1% drop in GDP for that quarter.

A 2012 survey by the Centre for Economics and Business Research argued that each bank holiday cost the economy £2.3 billion.

More recently, the CEBR have changed their tune, arguing in 2020 that an October bank holiday would in fact boost the economy by £500 million.

This uplift varies by sector: tourism, hospitality and retail are unsurprisingly the big winners. But there remain wider benefits too: research from Italy in 2014 showed that workers returned more productive the day after a public holiday.

Creating a permanent Elizabeth Day might be a fitting way to celebrate her reign and help redress our holiday shortfall. As ideas go, this one feels a banker.