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Almost 80% of parents don’t know the average cost of childcare per week

  • Over a third of grandparents(34%) are doing 10+ hours of childcare per week 

With the cost of full time childcare averaging over £200 a week1, it comes as no surprise that many parents are seeking support from family to lessen the financial burden. But how much do we value the help offered, and do we really know how much money it’s saving us?

A recent survey of 1,500 UK parents2 by pensions advice specialist Portafina sought to determine the extent to which this hidden ‘workforce’ is supporting with care of grandchildren, and what sort of thanks is being offered in exchange.

The data revealed that over a third of grandparents (34%) are doing more than 10 hours of childcare per week during term time, with this figure increasing to nearly half (48%) during the school holidays. With the average UK family consisting of two children3, grandparents are gifting childcare support with a value of almost £5,000 a year.

Interestingly, men and women don’t appear to be in absolute agreement about the amount of childcare support offered, with 41% of male respondents saying that grandparents were doing 10+ hours a week, versus 29% of female respondents.

This could explain why a staggering 80% of parents surveyed didn’t have a clue how much money their own parents were saving them, despite 40% stating they used family ‘because it was cheaper’, and only 35% of respondents said they knew for sure their family could actually ‘afford’ to help.

When it came to providing some kind of return for the childcare given, 83% of parents confirmed that something was offered as thanks; with 30% saying they were covering all incurred costs, 27% covering ‘most’ costs, and nearly a third (30%) thanking supportive grandparents with regular meals out, or bestowing with flowers/gifts (29%).

Jamie Smith-Thompson, managing director at Portafina, said: “It’s very clear that help with childcare is important for a lot of families, and the fantastic thing is how much of a positive involvement grandparents are having. These days we often hear about how family life is fragmenting and social media is making people less physically interactive, but we’ve found that families come together when it counts – and nothing brings families together like grandchildren!

“It’s also interesting to see that people know which side their bread is buttered, as both men and women felt that it was their parents doing most of the work rather than the in-laws – and being honest, I’d probably say the same myself!”

Find out more about Portafina at

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