Using grandparents as cheap labour; is this what the govern-ment?

What do you do when there’s no-one around to look after the kids? Jackie Ashley has it spot on, you go to the grandparents.

Guardian: On grandparents, Whitehall is woefully old-fashioned

and we’re not talking babysitting in the short or mid-term. We’re talking caring for the grandchildren on a long-term basis. Having been involved with the Grandparents’ Association for a number of years I can show you evidence of hundreds of real-life stories of couples in their 50s, 60s and 70s who, for a range of reasons, are thrust into a second spell of parenting without guaranteed financial or emotional support.

Grandparent and grandchildCare is not a sexy vote-winner, particularly when the care is being carried out by people who may not be physically or emotionally in tune with modern youth culture. The government is happy to lean on grandparents – indeed there is almost an expectation that if an extended family is available, then they have a duty to undertake the care of grandchildren if the alternative option is for the child/ren to be taken into the care of the local authority. You never hear a word of complaint from the grandparents involved but Ashley hits the point home with this observation: “A parent, a foster parent, or someone looking after a disabled adult for 20 hours or more a week gets National Insurance credits. A grandparent doesn’t. This seems unfair, and mildly barmy. Grandparents get no flexible working help, or special leave. Parents can’t claim childcare tax credits for care by grandparents. Nine out of 10 grandparents do all the caring for free.”

Is this the kind of image of care the government really wants?

For more information on the Grandparents Association, please go to

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