The army of older people helping out families, charities and local communities for free would earn £643m a week at minimum wage scale.
The estimated 10.4m over-65s who give up to 10 hours every week would earn £62 each if they were paid national minimum wage.
Research by Aviva published today suggests a typical over-55 provides regular child-minding of up 30 hours a month, or 363 hours every year.
At minimum wage, that’s worth £2,247 to hard-pressed families, showing how much of a difference grandparents can make in helping children get by.
Clive Bolton of Aviva said: “The figures spell out what many families know from experience – that support from a retired relative, when it comes to childcare, can make a world of difference.“
Meanwhile almost a third of over-55s plan to continue working part-time during their retirement, but almost half also look for unpaid work in the voluntary sector, such as helping in a charity shop or providing practical support in the community through meals on wheels.
“The number of hours retirees commit to charity work and community projects tells only half the story about how society benefits from their committed efforts. In many cases, this support for people in need is truly invaluable,” said Mr Bolton.