Four in five grandparents ‘usually’ provide childcare

Four in five grandparents provide some form of childcare for their grandchildren in usual circumstances, with a quarter regularly helping out families during the working week.

Most grandparents help out with childcare.

Before the coronavirus outbreak, over-50s experts SunLife polled 2,000 grandparents and found that 85 per cent of grandparents provide some sort of support with 25 per cent providing child care during the working week. SunLife also found that 21 per cent usually do the school run and more than a third look after their grandkids over the summer holidays.

The research, originally gathered in October, also found that more than 29 per cent of grandparents are relied upon to look after grandchildren when they are sick.

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While the amount of support grandparents give varies hugely, with some offering a couple of hours a week, while others provide full-time childcare through the week, on average, grandparents who offer regular help spend eight hours a week looking after their grandchildren, saving parents a huge amount in childcare costs.

The organisation said that if grandparents were paid for eight hours a week, they would receive an annual salary of £4,027. For those grandparents who offer five days a week, at eight hours a day, it would be £22,651.

There are around 14 million grandparents in the UK, over 5 million of whom provide regular childcare. Based on the average support of eight hours a week, collectively, grandparents are saving their families £22.5 billion in childcare costs.

Brian Sloan, chief executive of Age Scotland said: “Whether it’s regular care or help in emergencies, Granny and Granddad tend to be the first port of call for most working parents across Scotland. With more and more families depending on their help, it’s not surprising that they save millions of pounds in childcare costs a year. In fact, many working grandparents have even cut down their own hours to lend a hand.

“As well as the financial benefits, this also leads to close and lasting bonds across the generations.

“Grandparents provide a sense of security and support for their grandchildren, who know they have someone to turn to for help and advice. Many older people also enjoy being involved in their grandchildren’s lives, saying it keeps them mentally and physically active. Both can learn a lot from each other, whether that’s sharing family recipes or help with the latest technology.”

He added: “While most grandparents don’t expect compensation, we would encourage them to make sure they’re not missing out on any support they’re entitled to. Many who are under State Pension age aren’t aware they can claim National Insurance credits if they provide regular care for children under 12.”

Ian Atkinson, director of marketing at SunLife said: “Usually, 85 per cent of grandparents offer regular support, and on average, spend eight hours a week providing childcare, with some providing considerably more. So these coming weeks and months could be very difficult for many families who usually rely on grandparents for support.”