Baby boomer generation need deep pockets today

Grandchildren? Don't you just love them? What would you not do for the little darlings with their funny, sweet ways, silly jokes and the unconditional love they show to adored grannie and grandpa?

Sandra Chapman
Sandra Chapman

It all sounds ‘simply cracker’ as a former teacher of mine used to say to his maths class, 90 per cent of whom didn’t understand algebra at all. And I still don’t.

But having grandchildren today is not what grandparents of eras past were used to. Himself and I had our birthdays this week and the wee darlings greeted us by mobile as they live in the Continent as we once called it – now it’s Europe - and were outside playing. All the older one wanted to do was show us how he could jump off his swing while it was up in the air. Yes, I nearly had a fit but he was enjoying it. His younger sister wanted to draw us a picture, with chalk, on the footpath. Now it’s not that easy to see much on a tiny screen and I missed entirely the arrows she was so enthusiastically drawing. Grand-parenting for my baby boomer generation is a whole different ball game particularly if they live abroad. Technology at least allows us some connection on special days. But I’m sure it would have been nice to have them living next door.

Maybe that would be less advantageous than ‘lonely’ grandparents think. A study published recently by Prudential suggests a generation of pensioners is now ‘bankrolling their families to the tune of £4,000 a year’.

Happy grandparents and grandchildren - Outdoors

They explain this in more detail as support for children, grandchildren and parents. They `must’ support their own children to buy a house, pay for social care for their parents and if that isn’t enough some find they are also forking out to help pay university fees for the grandchildren.

Stan Russell, a retirement expert at Prudential says part of it is down to increased longevity because more of us are living longer.

``Most of us are getting beyond our eighties so we have got those people who need support and who are still with us.’’ Those planning to retire this year can expect to `give their families £360 a month on average with one in five handing out £500 a month’ according to the report.

An astonishing 27 per cent claimed to be helping with everyday items such as food and travel. Only a minority of retirees – one in four – said they had a family but didn’t provide any financial support.

Happy grandparents and grandchildren - Outdoors

Another agency, Legal & General, suggested last year that the bank of mum and dad now ‘helps to fund a quarter of house purchases, lending more than £6.5billion to help younger relatives buy a home’. Grandparents would need to retire with hefty pensions and generous lump sums – the sort of privileges enjoyed by public sector employees – to fund the wider family. In fact it’s a well known fact that younger members of families feel a sense of entitlement when they see parents living well in retirement.

Some will expect the grand wedding, house deposit and free care for the children from ageing parents while still expecting to go on annual holidays, have two cars and an active social life themselves.

We promised our children only one thing – the best education we could afford for them and that included their sporting interests. It’s no bad thing to make sure that children grow up hungry for financial independence.

Young people today need to know that their parents/grandparents will need all the money they have to pay the approximate £50,000 a year it’s going to take to provide nursing care should it be required because the State claims not to have the money to pay for it despite the fact that the Peers who sit in the Lords are entitled to £305 a day – tax-free – plus travel costs just for turning up.

Successive Governments have often hinted that since the baby boomer generation benefited from being able to buy their homes and have reached old age mortgage free, they should help out the younger generation.

Encouraging this sense of entitlement in the young is very bad politics.