News archive 2010
UK fails to recognise crucial role of grandparents08 Jun 2010, PR 127/10
Britain’s grandparents are undervalued and overlooked compared to those in a number of other European countries, according to Grandparenting in Europe a new study by the Institute of Gerontology at King’s College London, charity Grandparents Plus and the Beth Johnson Foundation.
Funded by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Grandparenting in Europe shows that with an increasingly ageing population, high numbers of mothers in employment and the prevalence of family breakdown, the contribution of grandparents is becoming increasingly important in family life - in the UK and across Europe.
The study finds:
• 6 out of 10 grandmothers and 5 out of 10 grandfathers across the EU provide childcare for their grandchildren
• 40 per cent of grandparents in Italy, Spain and Greece provide regular childcare
• 20 per cent of grandparents in Sweden, France and Denmark provide regular childcare
But the UK is lagging behind some of its European neighbours when it comes to recognising the role of grandparents – leaving many struggling to juggle work and care and without financial support. The study shows that a number of EU countries have already taken steps to ensure grandparents’ role is supported including:
• Parents ability to transfer parental leave to a grandparents;
• Working grandparents ability to take leave if their grandchild is unwell;
• Grandparents being paid for the care they provide under certain circumstances (e.g. to support teenage parents).
In the UK, parental leave cannot be transferred to grandparents, nor is it possible for parents to pay grandparents’ childcare tax credits or childcare vouchers if they care for children so that parents can work. Grandparents also have no right to request flexible working. 1 in 3 working mothers in the UK rely on grandparents for childcare. Previous research published by Grandparents Plus shows that working age women on low incomes provide significant amounts of grandparental childcare.
However, the announcement that from April 2011 grandparents in the UK will be able to claim National Insurance credits is a significant step forward in the recognition of the caring contribution that grandparents make. Campaigners argue it’s time to build on this by learning from some of the more progressive policies in Europe.
Alongside the EU study the charity is today releasing a poll of grandparents that shows:
• There is overwhelming support from grandparents for the proposal that they should be paid for childcare with 7 out of 10 (69 per cent) saying they thought grandparents should be paid, rising to 3 out of 4 (75 per cent) for working age grandparents.
• Nearly half (46 per cent) of all grandparents who provide childcare for their grandchildren say the would work flexibly if it was an option
• More than half (53 per cent) of Grandparents under the age of 54 agree that grandparents should be entitled to a period of leave when a grandchild is born.
The EU report was launched last night at Grandparents Plus' Michael Young Family and Kinship Memorial Lecture, which was delivered by historian David Kynaston, author of Family Britain.
Dr Karen Glaser, Senior Lecturer in Gerontology, and lead author of the report, comments, 'We know that grandparental care is likely to become increasingly important as more mothers work and as family structures change. Our research has shown the need for greater understanding of the role of grandparents in family life and of policies that would help to support grandparents and families.'
Sam Smethers, Chief Executive of Grandparents Plus said: ’It’s taken a long time for Grandparents in the UK to begin to be recognised for the caring role that they so often play. National Insurance credits from April next year will certainly help to protect their pension entitlement but this won’t help them now. We have to match it with steps towards transferable parental leave and flexible working if we really want to make it easier for them to combine work and care.’
‘During the election campaign David Cameron said he wants to make the UK the most family friendly society in the world. It is good to see the Government already taking steps to do this with the promise of a consultation on extending the right to request flexible working to all.’
‘It is often said that grandparents do it for love not money, and that’s true. But our survey shows an overwhelming majority in favour of being paid for childcare. Perhaps granny has had enough?’
Speaking in support of the report Alan Hattan Yeo, Chief Executive of the Beth Johnson Foundation said: ’We have to start prioritizing the contribution that grandparents make to family life, to the economy and to the community. Our ageing population makes this issue all the more pressing.’
Notes to editors
Open Day for Prospective Students
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Alex Bevis, Public Relations Department,
Public Relations Department, King's College London
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 020 7848 3238
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