• In the past 12 months, almost a quarter (24%) of parents have provided financial support to help their own parents – the "grandparent generation."
• On average, these parents have given £2,251 per parent, helping out with costs like shopping, holidays and utility bills.
• Over three in five (62%) grandparents say they wouldn't turn to any family member if they needed financial help.
• 17% of grandparents helped their parents financially in the last 12 months too.
Research from Standard Life has revealed how in the past 12 months, almost a quarter of (24%) parents have contributed financially to help their own parents. Despite the widespread belief that older generations tend to hold the largest proportion of wealth and are supporting their children, that is not the case for all of them and some receive a financial top-up from younger members of the family.
The parents who helped their own parents out financially in the past year gave them an average of £2,251 per parent. Financial top-ups have most commonly been used to help parents with ad-hoc expenses such as shopping (16%), holidays (10%) and utility bills (9%).
Some grandparents now find themselves helping their own parents too. In the past 12 months, 17% of grandparents provided the "great grandparent" generation with an average top up of £1,819.
Earlier this month, Standard Life published the Family Financial Tree report, which revealed how money moves around the family and the conversations that are and aren't taking place. Despite the fact that some people are actively supporting the older generations in their family, the report found that the majority of grandparents (62%) say they wouldn't turn to any family member if they needed financial help. Only a third (34%) of grandparents say they openly discuss finances with their family, whilst a quarter (25%) only discuss money when it becomes necessary.
Of those grandparents who do talk about money with their family the top six topics for discussions are about wills (32%), current monthly expenditure (19%), current budgeting (19%), current savings (18%), potential inheritance (18%) and insurance (18%).
Julie Hutchison, Standard Life Family Financial Expert, commented:
"Standard Life's Family Financial Tree has given us an incredible insight into how money is passed around families and our attitudes towards discussing finances with each other. The fact that some people, even if they are grandparents themselves, are providing financial support to their parents these days shows the two-way traffic in terms of how money is moving around. It's not all about the trickle-down effect and inheritance planning. Many older members of the family clearly find it difficult to ask their family for help, even if they are finding their income has fallen below the cost of day to day living. That's why it's important to try to talk about money as a family, to share worries and to tap into any help that is available."
Sarah Willingham, personal finance expert at LetsSaveSomeMoney.com added:
"It is no wonder that a quarter of parents helped their parents out financially in the past 12 months. Utility bills are sky high, the cost of the weekly grocery shop is on the up and a basic pension pot just isn't enough to keep up with the rise in the cost of living. But we know the flow of cash isn't just one way. Grandparents in the past have helped out with childcare costs and offering financial support to the younger members of the family so it is great when that support can be returned. It is so important to talk to each other about money, so that if you do face financial difficulty, your family have got your back."
The Family Financial Tree, developed by Standard Life in partnership with Sarah Willingham, highlights how much families already support each other and shines a light on some of the uncomfortable discussions around money, inheritance and retirement that aren't taking place.
Five key conversations that families should try to have with older generations:
• Do they have a legally binding will? Where is it? (Only 18% of people have discussed their will and 64% have not discussed inheritance at all with their family)
• If they were incapacitated, who would have power of attorney to make decisions for them? (Only 10% of people have discussed power of attorney with their family)
• Do they have a pension that gives them enough income? Will it still pay out to their spouse if they die? (Only 13% of people have discussed pensions with their family)
• Are there ways they could better manage their cost of living and do they need help finding better deals on monthly bills? (1.8 million pensioners in the UK live in poverty [Age UK] yet only 38% of grandparents in Great Britain say they would turn to family for financial help)
• What kind of care provision is in place in case they can no longer look after themselves? (Only 2% of adults have ever helped their parents with care bills)