A new study by RIAS has found that 6.1 million older Britons look after their grandchildren regularly for nothing, devoting an average of five hours a week to helping out their hard-working children. This saves families, typically, around £860 a year which adds up to £5.2 billion across the whole country.
Many grandparents will step in to pick up children on the school run or give them lifts to out of school activities. When the youngsters are ill and parents find it hard to take time off work, the older generation steps in to help.
The recession has seen grandparents come to the rescue more often and in different ways, including chipping in financially to pay their children's bills and other costs. A third of grandparents (33 per cent) say they regularly contribute financially, even putting up money towards family holidays and other costly items where they can afford to help.
Combining their free childcare services plus irregular loans can add up to an outlay of £25,000 for one grandchild from birth to their 18th birthday, the report calculated.