Saga babysitters

Tuesday 1 April 2008

Saga babysitters

  • Grandparents spend on average over 17 hours a month and £20 per day looking after grandchildren
  • Almost one in five spend the equivalent of a week's full time employment per month caring for grandchildren
  • Almost two thirds think childcare benefits should go towards paying grandparents for childcare
  • Nursery care costs in England average over 8k per year

Recent research by Saga Insurance* has revealed that grandparents are the overlooked Mary Poppins' of the family, with some spending the equivalent of a weeks full time employment every month looking after their grandchildren, despite being unpaid and uncompensated for costs. The study also revealed the injustice of grandparent carers being ineligible for childcare benefit payments despite the majority of people believing they should be entitled to this money.

The Saga Populus panel, the largest panel of over 50s in the UK, revealed that well over half (61%) of all grandparents regularly look after their grandchildren. Of those within the grandparent babysitters club almost half (44%) spend more than 16 hours a month caring for little ones, and a staggering 15% spend more than 40 hours – the equivalent of a week of full time employment. Despite the time put in, almost all (92%) of those questioned receive no financial payment for looking after their grandchildren. Of those who are 'paid', the majority receive payment in kind, eg being helped round the house and only 1% of grandparents are actually paid cash for their time.

Adding to the burden, the study also revealed that, many grandparents are out of pocket on expenses incurred whilst looking after the grandchildren. The average amount spent by grandparents is £10.75 per day per child with food and activities taken into account. Most grandparents look after two children at a time meaning this cost quickly escalates to over £20 a day. Over three quarters of Grandparents (76%) are not reimbursed at all for these costs.

Since caring for grandchildren takes up so much of their time, it's hardly surprising that over half of grandparents (58%) and 61% of all people think that parents should be able to claim childcare benefits in order to pay them, in much the same way they can to pay for professional childcare.

A quarter (25%) of all grandparents questioned stated that they have reduced their own working hours in order to make time to look after their grandchildren. Considering this, it is not surprising that there is such a strong movement for grandparents to see some sort of financial payback.

When taking into account the astronomical cost of nurseries in the UK, it's understandable that many parents are keen to have as much childcare help as possible. The yearly cost of a typical nursery place for a child in the England is now 8,266**. This is slightly cheaper in Wales and Scotland with costs at 7,384 and 7,332 respectively.

Andrew Goodsell, Chief Executive, Saga Group Ltd, said: "Looking after children is a serious commitment, but grandparents often choose to provide this support and place the monetary implications of reducing their own working hours into second place. However, it's enjoyment rather than obligation that drives them to spend this much time with their grandchildren with 36% of respondents stating that they do it because they enjoy it".


Notes to Editors-

* Research by Saga/Populus Poll – December 2007.

** Figures taken from the Daycare Trust childcare costs survey 2008.

Other statistics:

The reasons grandparents help out with childcare are numerous, although the most popular is because they wish to spend time with them.

Top five reasons why grandparents act as childminders:

1. Enjoyment (36%)

2. Belief that children should be looked after by family instead of strangers (18%)

3. Only opportunity to see grandchildren regularly (8%)

4. Parents are unable to afford childcare costs (7%)

5. Belief that it's good to have a balance between professional childcare and family care (7%)

For further press information please contact the Saga Press Office on: 01303 771529.

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