Grandparents play a significant emotional and financial role.
According to new research from insurer SunLife, four in five grandparents are providing some form of childcare for their grandchildren.
As a result, grandparents save a collective £22bn in childcare costs for UK families.
The poll of 2,000 grandparents found that 85% provide some form of support.
45% of grandparents provide babysitting for their grandchildren, and 34% provide childcare during the school holidays.
A quarter of grandparents provide childcare during the working week, with one in five taking care of the school run.
The research also found that more than 29% of grandparents are relied upon to look after grandchildren when they are sick, while one in six grandparents provide a taxi service, taking their grandkids to after school clubs, activities and hobbies.
What would all of this childcare provided by grandparents cost if the role was paid?
With an average of eight hours a week devoted by grandparents towards childcare, this would equate to an annual salary of £4,027.
For grandparents who provide childcare for five days a week, eight hours a day, it would equate to an annual salary of £22,651.
With around 14 million grandparents in the UK and 5 million of these providing regular childcare, it means a cost-saving to families of approximately £22.5 billion each year in childcare costs.
Ian Atkinson, marketing director at SunLife, said:
“Grandparents are often the unsung heroes of the family, spending hours helping with childcare and offering practical and emotional support, not to mention saving parents thousands of pounds in childcare costs.
The research suggests most are happy with the amount of support they give, getting to spend time with their beloved grandchildren and staying fitter and healthier in the process!”
It’s worth noting that grandparents who provide regular care and support for their grandchildren could be entitled to receive childcare credit.
Childcare credit is a National Insurance credit introduced in April 2011, available if you’re a grandparent or another family member who cares for a child under 12, usually while their parent or the main carer is working.
Specified Adult Childcare credits work by transferring the National Insurance credit attached to Child Benefit from the Child Benefit recipient to the family member who is providing care to the child.
Credit is available for each Child Benefit recipient, rather than each child, so care must be taken to decide who receives any credit.
Once in receipt of this credit, a grandparent can receive a Class 3 National Insurance credit for each week or part week they care for the child.
These Class 3 National Insurance credits can help build entitlement to the State Pension.
The credits can also help to stop gaps in your National Insurance record.