Children’s charity 4Children today launched an 18-month inquiry into the extended family after producing research showing families were under strain due to financial and caring pressures.
The Family Commission, which will be chaired by Esther Rantzen and includes academics, business leaders, policymakers and media representatives, will examine what support families need in areas including social care and childcare.
A survey by the charity found 49% of Britons only saw extended family members, including grandparents, at most twice a year, while 28% of people with parents and children felt torn between caring for each.
Sixty one per cent thought that families with older relatives did not get enough help from government while 50% of respondents thought the same about families with disabled relatives.
The same proportion felt family life was harder for people in Britain than it was 20 years ago, while 22% felt tight finances were the biggest threat to family life.
4Children chief executive Anne Longfield said: “With a growing recognition that family circumstances have a dramatic impact on the outcomes and life chances of children, this study is searching for solutions. We know that the economic climate is creating real worry for many.”