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Grandparents save British families £22bn a year in childcare costs

Emma Lunn
Written By:
Emma Lunn

Four in five grandparents provide free childcare, worth an average of £4,027 a year.

Grandparents spend an average of eight hours a week looking after their grandkids, according to SunLife.

SunLife polled 2,000 grandparents and found that 85 per cent of grandparents offer some sort of support, with almost half (45 per cent) babysitting for their grandchildren and more than a third (34 per cent) looking after their grandkids over the summer holidays.

A quarter (25 per cent) of grandparents provide care during the working week and one in five (21 per cent) do the school run.

The research also found that more than 29 per cent of grandparents are relied upon to look after grandchildren when they are sick, while one in six (16 per cent) grandparents provide a taxi service, taking their grandkids to after school clubs, activities and hobbies.

While most (59 per cent) say they are more than happy to do it, just over one in five (22 per cent) say they ‘always’ or ‘often’ feel put-upon by their children to provide childcare for their grandkids, and a further one in five (19 per cent) say they ‘occasionally’ feel under pressure to offer help.

What if the role was paid?

SunLife’s “Grandparent Salary” calculator works out how much grandparents would earn if they were paid for their weekly duties.

While the amount of support grandparents offer 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.

SunLife found 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 (45 hours a week), their salary would be £22,651.

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

Ian Atkinson, marketing director at SunLife, said: “Grandparents are often the unsung heroes of the family, spending hours helping with childcare and offering practical and emotional support, not to mention saving parents thousands of pounds in childcare costs. The research suggests most are happy with the amount of support they give, getting to spend time with their beloved grandchildren and staying fitter and healthier in the process.”