Grandparents take strain of summer holiday childcare

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Grandparents set to save parents £806 million in free childcare this summer

The RIAS ‘Summer Holiday Helpers’ study highlights that over half (60%) of the 12.5 million over 50s grandparents across the UK, regularly provide childcare

The UK’s grandparents will save parents around £806 million in childcare costs this summer, new research reveals today.

Grandparents who look after younger family members will provide vital childcare during the summer holidays that could cost parents up to £558 if they had to pay for it.

The RIAS ‘Summer Holiday Helpers’ study highlights that over half (60%) of the 12.5 million over 50s grandparents across the UK, equivalent to 7.5 million grandparents, regularly provide childcare for the grandchildren. Of these grandparents providing childcare, 50% claim these important duties increase, often substantially, during the school summer holidays in July and August, as parents rely on them to look after their grandchildren.

With the average cost of childcare coming in at around £92.99 a week in Great Britain, this substantial contribution could be saving parents a huge £1.9bn in childcare costs over a year, and almost £806 million alone for the summer holidays.

Janet Connor, Managing Director of RIAS, comments: “Our ‘Summer Holiday Helpers’ study shows just how much grandparents contribute to family life, not just by giving wisdom, experience and love but also their time. As working hours get longer and the impact of previous years’ economic turmoil hangs over us, it looks as though parents are relying on grandparents more than ever before, especially over the long summer holiday break.

Today’s generous, doting grandparents

Nearly all (98%) of today’s dedicated grandparents are giving childcare for nothing – not receiving any formal payment for their time and effort. Nine out of ten (91%) grandparents cover their own ‘out of pocket’ expenses, for things like going swimming or visiting an attraction.

South East Grandparents saving the most in childcare costs

Grandparents in the South East are set to save parents just under £98 million in childcare costs this summer, with almost 230,000 grandparents providing at least half of all the required childcare during the summer holidays. And in terms of those grandparents whose childcare duties increase during the summer holidays, six out of ten (62%) Scottish grandmas and granddads look likely to spend more time with their grandchildren this summer than their southern counterparts.

Grandparents whose childcare duties increase during the summer holidays

(national average 50%)
Scotland (62%)
York and Humber (57%)
North East (56%)
Wales (54%)
East of England (52%)

Grandma’s ‘home from home’

Just over half (51%) of grandparents who provide childcare for their grandchildren over the holidays do so in their own house, meaning that it is fast becoming a second home for many children.

One third (33%) of grandparents claim that they have been relied on more in the last 12 months to provide childcare to grandchildren – with the main reason being parents having to work ever longer hours (28% of care giving grandparents agree with this). However, the grandparents are getting something out of it too – a fifth (21%) want to look after their grandchildren because it makes them feel younger and more sprightly.

Janet Connor continues: “As an over 50s insurance provide r we focused on grandparents aged over 50 in this study, but what’s interesting is that they don’t just provide childcare for their grandchildren. They also, on occasion, help out with childcare for friends’ children and nieces and nephews, so really are an influential and important positive influence on younger generations’ lives. It is important to embrace the care and assistance grandparents provide, and constantly value and celebrate all the support they give.”

Sam Smethers, Chief Executive of national charity Grandparents Plus said: “This report comes at a time when many grandparents will be preparing to alter their daily routines to help out with childcare this summer. They do it to help out their families but this invisible army also keeps the economy going. We need to recognise and value the contribution they make.”


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Lucy Pope
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