An “unpaid army” of grandparents are saving UK families billions in child care costs every year according to the latest research from The International Longevity Centre (ILC-UK) think tank.
With the price of child care increasing 20 per cent recent years (2011- 2016) grandparents have become vital support for UK parents and according to the study are providing child care worth £1,786 per annum. This equates to £16.1 billion across the UK.
The research, carried out on behalf of insurance company Ageas, explored the contribution of grandparents in the UK using new survey data and analysis to investigate the financial, care-giving and recreational support they offer.
The study also shows that nine million grandparents across the country are spending an average of 11.3 unpaid hours a week looking after their grandchildren.
Biggest source of childcare
“It is clear that grandparents have become the biggest sources of childcare after parents themselves, allowing more parents to work and thereby reducing the costs of childcare,” explains Baroness Sally Greengross, chief executive of ILC-UK.
“Nevertheless, how we support and reward this growing unpaid army and how we reconcile an increasing need to work longer for the over 50s, 60s and 70s and shape and expand family friendly policies for all, remains subject to debate.”
The research also discovered that one quarter (23 per cent) of grandparents even pay for babysitting, so that parents, and perhaps grandparents themselves, can take a break from child care duties.
Grandparents are also receiving little to no reimbursement for their time or expenses with only one in ten being reimbursed, however, 52 per cent of grandparents say they just enjoy the time they spend with their grandchildren.