The UK Metric Association (UKMA) is an independent, non-party political, single issue organisation which advocates the full adoption of the international metric system (“Système International” – SI) for all official, trade, legal, contractual and other purposes in the United Kingdom as soon as practicable. We also campaign for better consumer protection through accurate and consistent use of metric units of measurement in order to achieve price transparency.
In the mid-20th century, British industry recognised that there were substantial benefits to industry, trade and education by implementing the metric system. In response, in 1965, the Government announced plans to adopt the metric system in Britain within 10 years and led the entire Commonwealth to do the same. More than 50 years later, we are the only major Commonwealth country that has not completed the transition and British people now have to cope with two incompatible systems without adequate help or support. As a result, the British public is poorly informed and has an insecure grasp of measurement units. A Department of Education study in 2002 showed that one in three adults could not calculate the floor area of a room in either metric or imperial!
The UK Metrication Association was founded by Chris Keenan in 1999. This was initially a website aimed at countering misinformation provided to the media on metrication issues; at that time nobody (including government departments) was willing to express a pro-metric view. Later an e-mail forum was started for supporters of metrication and a blog – MetricViews – launched in 2006.
In 2001, a group of these supporters held an inaugural meeting and agreed to formally associate. Its constitution – using the name ‘UK Metric Association’ – was adopted and its first officers elected in early 2002. UKMA held its first annual general meeting in July 2002. Further details of the constitution can be seen by clicking here.
UKMA takes part in government consultations, media interviews and lobbying activities regarding metric issues. As a single-issue organisation, UKMA takes no position on political issues such as relationships between the UK and the EU, but enjoys support from politicians from the three main political parties.
In July 2004, UKMA launched its report ‘A very British mess‘ which details the current confusion caused by a partial adoption of the metric system. A way out of the mess is described. In 2006, UKMA published a report called ‘Metric signs ahead‘, which describes the current problems and inconsistencies with imperial units on British roads and promotes the case for converting road signs to metric units.
The UK Metric Association is currently the main voice in favour of sorting out the measurement unit mess by completing the metrication process. UKMA campaigns for two major changes:
- A decisive, comprehensive and consistent Government programme to complete the metric changeover. This should involve establishing a powerful cross-departmental authority to plan and supervise the programme within a fixed timeframe.
- A public education campaign to educate the public on the benefits of the metric system and to show how to use it in everyday life.
UKMA is believes that if Britain adopts the metric system in the right way there are substantial benefits to the British public. The campaign therefore focuses on areas which directly benefit the public, such as consumer protection, safety and public numeracy. A single, modern and consistent system of units can help the public through clear transparent labelling standards, price transparency, consistency between maps and transport signage and by re-inforcing education.
UKMA is financed entirely by membership subscriptions and personal donations.