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Almost two million grandparents cut working hours to help provide childcare

Recent research reveals older generation sacrificing working hours to help bridge the gap caused by the rising cost of childcare.

A recent study carried out on behalf of Grandparents Plus, Save the Children and The Family and Childcare Trust has revealed some considerable issues regarding the contribution that millions of grandparents are making.

With the cost of paid childcare on the increase, research reveals that more parents are seeking more help from their extended family. But what impact is this having on the lives of grandparents?

Increased pressure on grandparents

The study found that as many as 1.9 million grandparents had either reduced their hours or taken leave from work in order to look after their grandchildren. Furthermore, 2.2 million grandparents looked after their grandchildren to allow parents to continue working.

Research showed that grandparents were under pressure to provide childcare due to the increase in formal grandparentschildcare, which many parents simply would not be able to afford. Without childcare support from grandparents, many parents would be unable to stay in work.

Providing financial support

With regards to the financial implications of the level of care provided for grandchildren, grandparents who had reduced their working hours or given up their job in order to provide care have lost their main source of income.

On top of that, many of these grandparents were also contributing financially to support their grandchildren, with 34% saying they had spent as much as £500 on their grandchildren during the last 12 months. As many as 37% of grandparents polled felt that they were responsible for providing financial support to their grandchildren, if they were able to do so.

Childcare during the summer holidays

As schools break up for summer holidays mid-July, more parents will require help with their childcare needs from the extended family. In a recent survey conducted by Cotton Traders, as many as 18% of children will be spending the summer holidays with their grandparents, with only 7% spending the holidays with other relatives, 3.5% in paid childcare and 1% in free childcare.

Of the full six-week break, the survey found that on average, children will be spending 1.5 weeks in the care of extended family. A third of the parents surveyed said that they often go on holiday with grandparents to assist with their childcare needs.

Attitudes towards grandparents and extended workers’ rights

Due to the increased cost of living as well as financial costs, more grandparents need to stay in employment. Combined with rising costs of formal childcare, it would seem that more parents are depending on care provided by the extended family.

The study has revealed the significant contribution made by grandparents to both society as well as the economy, and has raised questions about making workers’ rights that are currently only available to parents also available to grandparents, enabling them to remain in work whilst still providing childcare to their grandchildren.

With formal childcare proving to be expensive and unsustainable option, and more parents depending on support from grandparents, the need for flexible working and grandparental leave to be extended to grandparents is becoming ever more pressing.

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