Grandparent power gives the economy a welcome boost thanks to free childcare

Grannies and grandpas are boosting the economy by providing free ­childcare
so parents can go to work.

Now bosses should be made to do their bit by giving grandparents unpaid time off to help out, says a TUC report.

out of five grandparents babysit so parents can work and not shell out nursery fees. Without Granny Power, they could not afford to take a job.

The average cost of a nursery place has risen by 30% under the Tory-led Coalition – nearly five times faster than average pay.

A weekly 25 hour nursery place for a child aged
two or over now costs an average of £107, compared to £82 in 2010, according to figures obtained by Labour.

average weekly earnings have risen only 6%, from £449 to £477, over the
same period.

So parents on average part-time wages now have to work four days a week to pay for full-time childcare.

The cost of caring for ­children before and after school is also soaring, leading to more grandparents being asked to help.

TUC quizzed 4,000 grandparents and a similar number of parents and found that unpaid, informal childcare was saving hard-pressed families thousands of pounds a year.

Grandparents should, says the report, be entitled to unpaid leave from work because of the growing numbers who are looking after their grandchildren.

Working grandparents are more likely to look after their grandchildren than those who have retired, the study found.

But some grandparents said they
had been refused time off by their employer or did not feel they could ask.

TUC general secretary
O’Grady said: “The informal childcare that millions of grandparents regularly provide is one of the most important and unheralded forms of care in Britain today.

“It allows mums and dads to work, saves them money on nursery and childminder fees, and creates a special bond across different generations in a family.

with more people than ever before working into their late 60s, millions
of grandparents are selflessly taking on ­childcare responsibilities for a second time while they still work.

“Many businesses have yet to keep up with this trend and ­thousands of grandparents who want to look after their grandkids are being prevented from doing so.

“It’s important that public policy catches up with the needs of working grandparents and their families.

“A new right to unpaid leave would be a great way to get more working grandparents involved in childcare, and at very little cost to an employer.”

Sam Smethers, chief executive of charity Grandparents Plus, added: “Family life is changing and it’s time that government and employers caught up.

“Grandparents are picking up the strain that families are under and providing an increasing amount of childcare.

“But they are under pressure themselves, working longer and struggling to combine paid work with caring.

risk a ‘childcare gap’ emerging, with parents paying the price, if grandparents cannot afford to reduce their hours or can’t get the flexibility they need.

“The solution is a period of grandparental leave and an investment in formal childcare.”

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Grandparent power gives the economy a welcome boost thanks to free childcare
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