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5 million grandparents take on childcare responsibilities

Published on 28 September 2017 11:01 PM

Two-fifths (40%) of the nation's grandparents over the age of 50 - five million - have provided regular childcare for their grandchildren, according to a new YouGov poll for leading older people's charity, Age UK.

The new research, published by Age UK ahead of national Grandparents' Day this Sunday (1 October), shines a light on the unique relationship between the older and younger generations, demonstrating the wide ranging benefits of keeping the generations connected.

Highlighting the prevalence of ‘grannannying' in today's society, the new findings show that many of the nation's 14 million grandparents are now playing a pivotal role in their grandchildren's day-to-day lives.

Grandparents are having to provide weekly childcare

The survey revealed that the vast majority (89%) of the five million grandparents who provided regular care do so at least once a week:

  • one in 10 (12%) looking after their grandchildren at least once a day
  • a fifth (18%) look after them 4-6 times a week
  • two-fifths (38%) look after them 2-3 times a week

Just over half (51%) of these grandparents providing regular care did so for up to five years and a further 28% did so for between 5-10 years, with well over half (57%) saying their help had enabled their own child/ children to work more to support their family.

The benefits of spending time with grandchildren

The findings show that the vast majority of grandparents surveyed that provided regular care for their grandchildren also felt huge benefits from spending this time with their grandchildren:

  • half (50%) said it kept them physically and mentally active
  • 14% admitted it stopped them from feeling lonely
  • almost two-fifths (38%) admitted it gave them a sense of purpose

Nearly all (88%) said they enjoyed the time spent with their grandchildren and the opportunity to watch them flourish.

Grandparents provide a range of support

The findings reveal that almost nine out of 10 (89%) of all grandparents across the UK - including those who do not provide regular childcare - feel close to their grandchildren, with around a third (33%) of those playing the role of confidant for grandchildren with worries or problems.

And while the same proportion also find themselves asked for advice and practical tips such as recipes and how to mend things, over a quarter (28%) said their grandchildren also provide practical help such as support with technology if they need it.

Grandmother and Age UK supporter, Gloria Hunniford, said: 'Being a grandparent is such a vital part of my life and I love having a close bond with my grandchildren. They bring me endless joy but on occasions we have helped each other through some very difficult times. Having watched them grow means so much to me and has given me a purpose when I needed it most.

'Grandparents' Day is all about celebrating those whom we care about in our lives and taking time to recognise how important they are. It's crucial that we do everything we possibly can to look after our loved ones so do your bit and help support Age UK to help make sure older people can love later life."

Celebrate grandparents this Sunday by sharing your photos!

To mark Grandparents' Day this Sunday and honour the millions of grandparents across the UK, Age UK is asking the nation to share photos of their grandparents along with a few words about a special memory on social media using the hashtag #Grandpics. For each photo uploaded, Age UK suggests a £5 online donation towards the Charity to help it support older people. For more information go to

The money raised will help Age UK to continue providing advice, support and companionship to older people who need it most, from helping the Charity support its local Age UK partners to deliver hands-on local services such as lunch clubs and home safety checks, to funding hugely important national work like its free information and advice line, campaigning and research.

Are you entitled to claim National Insurance credits?

Age UK is also calling on grandparents who are under State Pension Age and providing regular childcare to grandchildren under the age of 12 to see if they are entitled to claim National Insurance (NI) credits which could top up their State Pension.

For more information, people can contact the Age UK's advice line on Freephone 0800 169 65 65 or read our online information on State Pensions

Age UK's Charity Director, Caroline Abrahams, commented: 'Many grandparents play a vital role in the care of their grandchildren, and families across the country are clearly enjoying the benefits of the trend towards "grannannying".

'With the majority of grandparents who provide childcare looking after their grandchildren at least once a week, it's clear to see how such wonderfully close and long-lasting bonds can develop and it's no wonder that so many grandparents have become their grandchildren's confidant.

'This Grandparents' Day is a perfect opportunity to recognise and celebrate the contribution of these very special people, whilst also helping us to raise vital funds to support older people all year round.'


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Last updated: Dec 05 2018

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