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Bright Blue have found that nearly one in five grandparents rarely or never see their grandchildren, while one in four spend time caring for their grandchildren.

In polling conducted by Survation for Bright Blue’s recent report, Give and take, it was found that nearly one in five grandparents rarely or never see their grandchildren. By contrast, one in four grandparents were found to have caring responsibilities for their grandchildren:

• 18% of grandparents report that they rarely/never see their grandchildren.

• 5% of grandparents report being the main carer for one or more of their grandchildren.

• Grandmothers were more likely to report being the main carer for one or more of their grandchildren, 11%, compared to 1% of grandfathers.

• A further 20% of grandparents report that they spend time caring for their grandchildren, without being their main carer.

These findings were covered in the Daily Mail. In its report, Give and take, Bright Blue have called for the following policies:

1. Extending Shared Parental Leave to working grandparents. All working grandparents should be able to have any of the 50 transferable weeks of new Shared Parental Leave transferred to them. Grandparents would receive the usual guarantees of statutory parental leave – including being paid the base rate of Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) for a maximum 37 weeks – and would be entitled to return to work upon completion of the leave.

2. Introducing a contribution supplement in Statutory Maternity Pay, which grandparents will be entitled to if they take up Shared Parental Leave. After the first six weeks of maternity leave, mothers receive a base rate of Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) of £138.18 per for 33 weeks. Under our new proposal, mothers with longer National Insurance contribution histories will be eligible for additional funding on top of the base rate they receive.  This will be tiered. So, the Government will decide a minimum number of years for which an eligible mother has to have previously worked for with NI contributions until they become eligible for the extra payment. If the mother reaches a higher specific number of years worked previously they will eligible for another payment. Grandparents would also be entitled to the Contribution Supplement of SMP if the mother transferring her leave is eligible for it.

Director of Bright Blue, Ryan Shorthouse, said:

“The majority of grandparents love to help with looking after their grandchildren. For young parents, grandparents are often an essential source of practical and financial support. So it is worrying that so many grandparents hardly ever see their grandchildren.  The reasons for this are varied. But we must make it easier for grandparents, who are increasingly working later in their lives, to balance their work and family commitments. Giving working grandparents the right to take leave to look after their grandchildren, and be paid for it, will enable different generations within a family to spend more time together.”