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An investigation by tombola has revealed that grandparents save the UK’s parents an average of £161.1bn every year by providing informal childcare for their children.

65% of grandparents provide childcare to help to their children. By offering an average of 11.3 hours informal childcare a week grandparents are saving parents £1,786 a year. That’s a saving of £161.1bn every year for parents across the UK. Not only that, 23% of grandparents also help pay for childcare, so that the whole family can have a break.  

Where are grandparents providing childcare the most?

What’s more, tombola discovered that grandparents in the North East provide the most childcare (44%), followed by Yorkshire and the Humber and South West both at 33%. Whereas grandparents in East Midlands (24%) and London (15%) provide the least amount of childcare.

Based on the median grandparent childcare per week (11.3 hours), parents in the South East can save £3,204 a year in childcare costs. And a huge £4,031 a year in London.

Where are grandparents helping out the most?
  • North East (44%)
  • Yorkshire and the Humber and South West (33%)
  • North West and South East (30%)
  • West Midlands (29%)
  • East of England (28%)
  • East Midlands (24%)
  • London (15%)

Health benefits

Research shows that 82% of grandparents provide childcare for their children simply because they love spending time with their grandchildren, with a further 44% saying it provided an affordable way for their own children to return to work.

The health of grandparents who take part in little or no childcare.

What’s more studies show that 84% of grandparents feel that providing childcare has a very positive impact on their life, including them feeling less depressed, in better health and in some case contributing to a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s.

Grandparents who look after their grandchildren are more likely to report better health than those who do not. Even looking after grandchildren a few hours a day has a major impact. Studies have concluded that only 23% of European grandparents who look after children non-intensively, report poor health. Whereas, 37.3% of grandparents who do not care for grandchildren at all, attest to bad health. This benefit can be seen in mental wellbeing too. Grandparents looking after grandchildren are 8% less likely to report depressive symptoms.

Percentage of grandparents undertaking physical and educational activities with their grandchild.

It seems like grandchildren feel the same way. A study in Boston found that close bonds between grandparent and grandchild can reduce depressive symptoms for both. The benefits aren’t limited to grandparents either.

Benefits for the child include:

  • Helping to form their self-identity
  • Aiding their socio-emotional development
  • Improving their self esteem
  • Developing their vocabulary


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