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Two in five (42%) grandparents were relied upon to provide childcare during the school holidays, according to new research by Lloyds Bank.

Part of the ‘How Britain Lives’ study, the UK-wide analysis conducted in partnership with YouGov found that 61% of working parents regularly rely on childcare support from nurseries, childminders and family or friends throughout the year, and this summer an estimated 5 million grandparents were called on to help.

The savings for parents are likely to be significant. The poll found that UK families spend an average of £350 per month on childcare. That means, based on the UK’s average salary, parents are forking out 20% of their monthly disposable income to cover childcare costs, a figure likely to be even greater during the school holiday months. Of the grandparents who provide childcare support, one in four (26%) say that on top of caring for the little ones, they also cover the costs of keeping them entertained with activities, and another seven in 10 (70%) buy their grandchildren regular treats while looking after them.

It isn’t just the school holidays when families turn to grandparents for help, with around a third relied upon at other times in the year for the school and nursery runs (34%), providing before and after school care (32%) and helping out on the weekends (36%). On average, grandparents report spending eight hours a week caring for their grandchildren. Based on the average salary of a childcare worker at almost £8, that means grandparents are giving the equivalent of £3,200 worth of childcare throughout the year.

Despite the graft, two thirds (63%) of grandparents said they were asked to help and were happy to do it. A third (33%) said they proactively offered their support. Seven in 10 (71%) of the grandparents polled say helping means they get to spend more time with their grandchildren than they did with their own grandparents.

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