Grandparents and their grandchildren

A poll from Ipsos MORI, carried out on behalf of the charities Grandparents Plus, Save the Children and the Family and Childcare Trust, reveals people's attitudes and behaviours around the role of grandparents caring for their grandchildren.

A new poll from Ipsos MORI, carried out on behalf of the charities Grandparents Plus, Save the Children and the Family and Childcare Trust, reveals people’s attitudes and behaviours around the role of grandparents caring for their grandchildren.  Key findings include:

  • 14% of grandparents say they have reduced working hours, given up a job, or taken time off in annual or sick leave to care for a grandchild at some point in their lives – 19% of grandmothers and 8% of grandfathers
  • 40% of grandparents who look after their grandchildren say they do so to allow the child’s parents to get to work and 17%  do so because parents cannot afford childcare.  Most (57%) say they do it because they enjoy it.
  • 64% of grandparents who look after their grandchildren support an entitlement to unpaid leave from work to care for a sick grandchild, and 56% support unpaid leave to help parents with childcare
  • 59% of the wider public support grandparental leave to look after a sick grandchild, and 51% support unpaid leave for childcare. 
  • 7 in 10 (69%) grandparents say the financial, practical and caring contribution they make is not recognised   
  • 12% of grandparents say they feel under pressure to financially support their grandchildren. A further 1 in 3 (33%) would like to be able to financially support their grandchildren but cannot afford to.
  • 12% of grandparents estimate they have spent over £1,000 on their grandchildren in the past 12 months and 17% grandparents say they have spent between £501-£1,000. A further 34% grandparents have given between £100-£500. 
  • Grandparents who provide the most childcare are also more likely to spend money on grandchildren; almost 3 in 10 (28%) who provide over 10 hours per week of childcare say they have given over £1,000 to grandchildren in the past year. 
  • 3% of grandparents say they have reduced the amount they save for a pension in order to financially support their grandchildren at some point in their lives.
  • Grandparents are three times more likely to say it is their responsibility to financially support their grandchildren rather than the other way round (37% say it is their responsibility to provide financial support to grandchildren, and only 12% say their grandchildren have a responsibility to provide for them). 
  • Public support for spending on the Basic State Pension and benefits for older people is high with 88% agreeing that benefits for older people should be protected but this drops to 54% if it is at the expense of benefits for young people and children.  Similarly, support for protecting benefits (77%) and spending (76%) for children and young people is also high, but these fall to 32% and 31% respectively if it reduces benefits or spending for older people.
  • Grandparents who spend time caring for grandchildren are more likely to agree that benefits for children and young people should be protected with 88% agreeing compared with 67% who spend no time caring for their grandchildren.
  • Grandparent child-carers are more likely to want more public spending on children and young people, with 84% agreeing compared with 76% of the wider public.

Bobby Duffy, Managing Director of Public Affairs at Ipsos MORI commented:

“The survey illustrates very clearly that the idea of there being a “war” between the generations is very far from the day-to-day reality for most people.  In fact, it’s the opposite – it shows how many young families rely heavily on grandparents for support.  This puts pressure on grandparents, who often have limited resources themselves – and those families who don’t have grandparents with time or money to give miss out on this vital source of support.”  

Technical note: A representative sample of 2,044 adults from GB aged 15+ were interviewed face-to-face and in-home between 6th and 13th June 2014; 617 described themselves as grandparents/great-grandparents. Results are weighted to match the profile of the British population.

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