We salute you! Britain's Grandparents save Mums and Dads £15.7bn annually in childcare costs

Thursday, 03 December 2015

New insight* from insurance provider RIAS reveals today that two thirds (67%) of UK grandparents provide childcare for their grandchildren. This 9.2m1 strong ‘grandparent army’, up from 6.1m in 2009, saves parents £15.7bn2 each year in childcare costs, equivalent to almost £1,700 per family3.


Today’s ‘21st Century Grandparent Army’ Report, now in its seventh year, also shows that one fifth (19%) of grandparents have seen their childcare roles increase in the last 12 months – a major reason being their children’s increasing workloads and pressure to keep their job or get a pay rise. The vast majority (96%) of grandparent childminders receive no payment whatsoever from their children to cover the cost of looking after their little ones. Whilst six out of ten (60%) grandparents do not want anything in exchange, they are also shelling out over £400 each year for little ones’ activities whilst they are in their care, a colossal combined £3.8bn4.


Been there, done that

With plans that would allow shared parental leave between grandparents and parents due to come into force from 2018, the research found that over one quarter (28%) of parents would consider sharing parental leave – however, just 15% of grandparents, 2.1m people, would be willing to do it. The report also found:


On top of the collective 3.8bn8 hours of childcare, worth a whopping £15.7bn each year,  the 2015 ‘Grandparent Army’ also spend £9bn per year by regularly providing financial contributions towards toys, clothing, pocket money, savings, hobbies and leisure activities, to the tune of £648 each year. 

Year Number of grandparent childminders Total amount saved in childcare  Annual amount saved per family Average number of hours per week
2009 6.1m  £5bn  £860 5 hours 18 minutes
2010 7.5m  £12.5bn  £1,650  9 hours 36 minutes
2011 5.8m  £10.7bn  £1,830  10 hours
2012 5.8m  £11bn   £1,888 10 hours
2013 9.8m  £16.4bn  £1,659  8 hours 12 minutes
2014 9.1m  £17.3bn  £1,902  9 hours 6 minutes 
2015 9.2m  £15.7bn  £1,700  7 hours and 56 minutes
Increases since 2009  51%9 £10.7bn   £840  2 hours and 38 minutes


Handy with the grandchildren… and the chores

Although the majority of grandparents love spending time with their grandchildren, one third (31%) admit it’s strenuous and for one in ten (10%) it feels ‘like a job’. In addition to childcare, it seems grandparents are in demand to help out their children with other things, particularly household jobs. The top chores they are drafted up to help with are grocery shopping (24%), DIY around the home (21%), gardening (21%) and washing and ironing (20%).

Mark Hanson, Director of Marketing at RIAS, comments: “We’ve been tracking the amount of support British grandparents provide their families for the last seven years, and this Achilles’ heel of family life, across both time and money, is more and more vital. With parents feeling the pressure in the workplace, and needing a helping hand around the home, grandparents are proving themselves, time and time again, as the family life support network.”

Janet Ellis and grandparent of four said: “The figures speak for themselves, but the Grandparent Army doesn’t often talk about what they do, they just get on with it! It's time to reveal – and celebrate – the amazing, generous and essential contribution they make. With four grandchildren, I know about helping out and what it means to my daughter, Sophie. When it comes to that very special Army, I'm certainly in the ranks.”

For more information about the full range of products RIAS offers, customers can visit www.rias.co.uk.


Research commissioned by RIAS and carried out by Opinium Research between 30th October to 4th November 2015. Total sample size was 1,000 grandparents and 1,319 parents with children under the age of 18 years. The survey was carried out online.

1. Research conducted by Opinium Research from a nationally representative sample of more than 2,000 UK adults, indicated that 27% were grandparents. Based on 27% of 50,909,000 (2014 ONS UK adult population aged 18+), this equates to an estimated 13,745,430 grandparents in the UK. As 67% of grandparents surveyed provide at least one hour of childcare per week, this amounts to an estimated 9,236,929 grandparent childminders (67% x 13,745,430 grandparents).
2. The average amount of childcare provided by grandparent childminders is 7.9 hours a week. RIAS calculated that 7.9 hours a week x 52 weeks x £4.12 (based on The Family & Childcare Trust’s average figure on the hourly cost of an age 2 and over childminder in the UK, 2015) x 9,236,929 estimated UK grandparent childminders = £15,701,785,163.
3. The average amount of childcare provided by grandparent childminders is 7.9 hours a week. RIAS calculated that 7.9 hours a week x £4.12 (based on The Family & Childcare Trust’s average figure on the hourly cost of an age 2 and over childminder in the UK, 2015) x 52 weeks = £1,700 annually.
4. According to gov.uk, the most you can currently get on a basic State Pension plan is £113.10 per week (https://www.gov.uk/state-pension/overview), or £113.10 x 52 weeks = £5,881.2 annually. RIAS calculated that (£88 x 12 months) / £5,881.2 = 18%. Grandparent childminders said they spent £34 per month on these activities. £34 x 9,236,929 grandparent child minders x 12 months = £3,808,996,107.
5. 19% of grandparent childminders said they the amount of care they provide has increased. 19% of 9,236,929 grandparent childminders is 1,773,160.
6. 54% of grandparent’s surveyed indicated they regularly contribute financially towards their grandchild(ren), and the average contributed was £54 a month. RIAS calculated that 54% x 13,745,430 estimated UK grandparents x £54 x 12 months = £8,968,060,565.
7. 17% of grandparent childminders indicated they used their personal savings to keep up with the costs of taking care of their grandchild(ren). 4% have gone into their overdraft, and 1% have taken out a bank loan – totalling 5% going into debt.
8. The average amount of childcare provided by grandparent childminders is 7.9 hours a week, or 7.9 x 52 = 413 hours annually. 413 hours of childcare provided by 9,236,929 grandparent childminders = 3,811,112,903 hours in total.
9. 7 hours and 56 minutes (476 minutes) divided by 5 hours and 18 minutes (318 minutes) is 1.5 or up 50%.

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