A Wrexham lawyer who is an authority on grandparents’ rights has added his support to a group currently campaigning for policymakers to recognise the contribution made by grandparents in the upbringing of their grandchildren.
John Lancaster, a Senior Solicitor with leading North Wales and Shropshire law firm GHP Legal, said today: “The government is happy for grandparents to work as unpaid child minders in a society where parents are often left with no other financial choice but to continue working and turn to their parents for help with looking after their children. Yet it provides this increasingly growing army of grandparents with no legal rights, either to financial benefits or, conversely, to grandchildren who have become estranged.
A report published today by the charity Grandparents Plus claimed that since the late 1990s grandparents have increasingly contributed to the upbringing of their grandchildren whilst as far as public policies are concerned they are apparently invisible.
“There are serious double standards issues when it comes to how the government views grandparents,” said Mr Lancaster. “Statistics going back to 2010 showed that one in every hundred children lives with a grandparent because they cannot for some reason live with a birth parent. On the other side of the coin more than one million children in the UK were denied contact with at least one of their grandparents.
“The government wants parents to return to work in order to reduce the benefits bill but it hasn’t even considered offering financial benefits to grandparents who step into child minding roles, often cutting down their own work hours to accommodate that. Similarly there is no legal aid for grandparents who are forced to turn to the courts in a bid to try and see an estranged grandchild.”