Childcare costs leave parents reliant on grandparents

The Momentum UK Team 04 September 2013

As childcare costs continue to rise and wages lag behind, lots of parents now depend on grandparents looking after the little ones.

A new survey, released today by, found that while 53% love the closeness that looking after their grandchildren brings, 19% said they sometimes feel taken for granted by their children.

Of the grandparents who look after their grandchildren, 63% aren’t paid a penny for the service. Those who are paid earn an average of £3.05 per hour, with 40% receiving the equivalent of just £1 an hour.

Of course, most grandparents aren’t really in it for the money. 72% of grandparents said that they enjoyed looking after their grandchildren. However, 16% said that they felt they had no choice, and 22% admitted that it was hard work but they have to do it to support their children. Taking care of children is certainly hard work and isn’t without its financial implications - such as feeding children and taking them on day trips. It perhaps isn’t surprising that 26% of grandparents said that the state pension should be increased for pensioners who take care of their grandchildren.’s customer insight manager, Claire Peate said:

“Childcare costs are crippling some families and it seems that more and more of us are depending on our parents to look after our own children so that we can go to work and make ends meet.”

She added:

“Juggling childcare and work is difficult for families - but parents have to realise the cost and responsibility they are placing on their own parents. Maybe offering a few pounds here and there would help ease the feelings of obligation so grandparents are happy looking after the kids.”

With the average cost of raising a child up 4% this year to £148,000 (according to research from the Child Poverty Action Group), it is not surprising that parents are seeking help from relatives. The cost of childcare is now so high that 70% of non-working mothers now say that they stay at home because paying for childcare would leave them worse off if they worked. In response to these findings, the government announced recently that free childcare places will be extended to another £260,000 toddlers from low income families.