Grandparents save parents more than £33 billion a year through providing childcare

Grandparents ‘save parents £33 billion’ Source : Press Association
Published on 29 March 2011 12:00 PM

A majority of grandparents become regular babysitters and complete work around the house to help out working parents, according to a survey.

Insurer Aviva has revealed that grandparents typically look after two children for an average of 13 hours a week, with almost all (99.5%) not getting paid for their caring duties.

Results from the poll also estimated that their free labour saves parents more than £33 billion a year.

Just over a quarter (28%) of grandparents also regularly do the school run, with 26% occasionally cooking meals for the family, 15% helping out with household bills and 13% doing the gardening.

While 88% say this brings them closer to their grandchildren, others say they are now feeling the strain of their role.

Around a third (32%) said they feel guilty if they ever have to say no to looking after their grandchildren and 30% said they sometimes cancel their own plans in order to fulfil their duties.

A quarter of grandparents said they sometimes feel taken for granted, 13% said they are worse off financially because of their role and 5% would like to take on more paid work but are unable to because of their childminding responsibilities.

A total of 1,079 grandparents were quizzed during March as part of the research.

Commenting on research revealing that grandparents save parents more than £33 billion a year through providing childcare, Andrew Harrop, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at Age UK, said: ‘As increasing numbers of grandparents provide care for grandchildren, it’s important that we recognise and celebrate the valuable contribution they make to society.

‘We know that grandparents often enjoy having an active role in the upbringing of their grandchildren, however this must not be taken for granted. The high cost of childcare in many areas can mean that for many families, support provided by grandparents is a financial necessity, without which they would not be able to continue working.

‘In these tough economic times, many families will need grandparents to help out more than ever, but both sides must make sure that they are happy with any arrangements to avoid possible disagreements or tension.’

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