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Grandparents as childcare providers - the new norm?

Our latest research finds that one in six has quit their job to look after their grandchildren.

grandparents and childcare

We have released new figures on the provision of childcare by grandparents, which is estimated to save parents in the UK an estimated £16 billion per year.


The new survey of just under 1,000 grandparents (all with grandchildren aged 11 and under) found that one in six (15%) respondents has taken early retirement or quit paid employment in order to help out with their grandchildren. Of those:

  • 80% say that quitting work to spend time with their grandchildren is worth it;
  • More than half (51%) say they’re happier now they spend time with their grandchildren; but
  • 17% describe themselves as financially unstable as a result; and
  • 4% say they were happier when they were working.

A third describe quitting work for childcare as the new norm for their generation. But when asked whether or not grandparents should be paid for regular childcare, two thirds (67%) said "no, not at all".


Grandparents are also supplementing some of the costs of raising a family for parents, by paying for some of the basics for their grandchildren:

  • Nearly one in five (18%) pay for school uniform;
  • A quarter (24%) pay for shoes, 15% pay for coats and 43% pay for non-uniform clothing;
  • One in five pay for extracurricular lessons, and 2% pay for schooling;
  • A quarter (25%) pay for holidays and nearly half (48%) buy toys which are neither for birthdays nor Christmas.


Survey respondents, with an average age of 62, look after two grandchildren 2.4 times per week, on average. They describe the best things about providing childcare for their children as:

  • The closeness between me/us and grandchildren (82%);
  • Knowing that my grandchildren are with someone who loves them (61%); and
  • Flexibility, convenience and peace of mind for the parents (45%).


Nearly two thirds (63%) describe the arrangement as “an amazing chance to spend time with my grandchildren”. 47% say that it’s a big commitment, but they’re happy to do it. And 41% say that looking after their grandchildren keeps them fit.

Gransnet Editor Lara Crisp said, "Our survey proves how integral UK grandparents are in providing childcare so that parents are able to return to work, even if in some circumstances this means sacrificing their own financial security. With alternative childcare options still so expensive, for some families this is the only option. And of course the opportunity to spend quality time with the grandchildren is something few grandparents would willingly miss out on."

Read the full survey results here.











Images: Shutterstock