Britain’s Baby-Boomers Now Holding the Baby

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The UK’s grandparents are saving parents just over £5 billion each year in childcare costs, a new research study reveals today .

One in seven (14%) grandparents who regularly provide childcare say that the amount has increased over the last 12 months – with a major factor being that mums and dads are having to return to work because of the recession.

Nearly 6.1 million grandparents look after their grandchildren on a weekly basis for free, according to a new study by over 50s insurer RIAS. On average, grandparents spend over 5 hours every week providing childcare for their grandchildren, saving families up to £860 a year in childcare costs .

The RIAS ‘21st Century Grandparenting’ study shows not only are grandparents providing vital childcare support in today’s tough economic climate, but also regularly contributing financially towards their grandchildren’s’ living costs, at a huge monthly commitment.

Janet Connor, Managing Director at RIAS, comments: “It’s no secret that grandparents love to spoil their grandchildren and be involved in bringing them up where possible. Millions of grandparents regularly step in to pick up children from school because parents are working full-time, help out when their grandchildren are ill and need to stay at home, or give parents a well-deserved break. Grandparents really do seem to be the modern family saviours, and should be celebrated for their emotional, pastoral and financial support.”

Economic climate putting pressure on parents

One in seven (14%) grandparents who regularly provide childcare say that the amount has increased over the last 12 months – with a major factor being that mums and dads are having to return to work because of the recession.

Generous with both love and lolly

One third (33%) of grandparents regularly contribute financially towards their grandchildren, with an average monthly bill of £123, equivalent to 11% of their monthly income . ‘Large purchases’ and holidays are the most costly items, with grandparents contributing £378 and £206 on average for each of these items every year.

The bank of Grandma and Granddad

If grandparents sustained this monthly cost until their grandchild reaches adulthood at 18 years, the bill for each grandchild could reach £25,740, over £500 billion in total for all grandchildren in the UK.

In addition, 28% of generous grandparents fork out for a cot when they hear the ‘patter of tiny feet’ news, whilst 25% contribute to a Child Trust Fund or savings account for the new arrival.

And while many grandparents happily give up their time and say looking after children makes them feel younger, one in five (20%) admit they have had to put a holiday or leisure activities on hold due to their childcare duties.

Other interesting findings include:

Nearly a quarter (24%) of grandparents believe they are less strict with the children than the parents are;

Over one in five (21%) believe they get to have more fun with their grandchildren than their parents do;

  •     44% look after their grandchildren because they want to spend more time getting to know them;
  •     One in five says playing an active role with their grandchildren makes them feel younger.

Janet Connor continues: “Society doesn’t always recognise grandparents as the highly valued and trusted carers to their grandchildren that they are. Our 21st Century Grandparenting report builds upon the extensive evidence suggesting the mutual benefits of the involvement of grandparents in their grandchildrens’ lives.”

Sam Smethers, Chief Executive of national charity Grandparents Plus said: “We welcome this study because it reveals the huge contribution that grandparents make to family life day in, day out. We know that so many families depend on them. It is time for us to take this seriously and recognise the contribution they are making.”

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Lucy Pope
RIAS
01202 254445
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