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Grandparents often a vital source of childcare during school holidays

26-Jul-16
Article By: Melissa McAlees, News Editor

Grandparents often step-in and hold the fort with childcare, particularly during the long school holidays, according to new research.

The study commissioned by Europcar revealed the average grandparent spends £105 over their usual daily living costs, equating to over £1,000 for the average 11 days when looking after two grandchildren.

One in nine grandparents have also been found to give up their job, cut their working hours, and take holiday or sick leave to ensure they can provide childcare for their children.

Dr Lucy Peake, chief executive of Grandparents Plus, a national charity which champions the vital role of grandparents, previously said: “Working parents up and down the country rely on the seven million grandparents who are providing care for their children, and we welcome the Government’s recognition of grandparents’ vital caring role as well as the introduction of greater choice for families about balancing child care and work.

“While we welcome the proposals to support families in the first year of a child’s birth, we know that one in four working families depend on grandparents for child care while their children grow up, and two million say they would give up work if grandparents were unable to care for their children. At the same time, people are working longer.

“We need to take action to enable grandparents to combine work and care. Giving working grandparents the right to flexible working and entitlement to leave to care for their grandchildren as they grow up would make a huge difference to families and to the economy.”

According to the research, grandparents in the East and North West take care of their grandchildren for an average of 12 days, compared to the national average of 11 days. However, grandparents in London, the South West, Midlands, South East and Yorkshire look after their grandchildren for ten days.

Similarly, the average grandparent also travels an average of two hours when they take their grandchildren away for a trip during the summer holidays. This has been found to increase to nearly two and a half hours in Scotland, compared to just one and a half in the South West.

Grandparents living in the North West have been found to experience the most significant financial burden, spending £181 above their normal daily living costs. London grandparents spend an average of £134 and those living in the South West spend the least at £79 above their normal daily living costs.

As well as the cost of looking after grandchildren, just under a fifth have to take time off work to do so, which has been previously found to cause financial pressure.

However, the social, physical and mental health benefits of looking after grandchildren have been found to outweigh the stresses. Grandparents can experience watching a child develop, play and explore from a child’s perspective, and enjoy the sense of purpose that comes with being needed and loved.

There is also an opportunity to pass along family traditions, cultural heritage, stories and songs, games or hobbies.

Jan Emms, mother of former Great Britain badminton player Gail Emms, often provides childcare for her grandchildren but has revealed that it comes at a financial cost. She said: “It’s hard for parents to afford child care for the whole of the summer holidays, so grandparents often step in to hold the fort. But, this can add up to a lot of extra expense to keep them occupied – as well as grandparents having to adjust normal daily plans.”

For more information, visit: http://www.grandparentsplus.org.uk/

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