THE social landlord behind Huntingdon’s new eco-housing development this week claimed that mobility problems faced by social housing tenants in the East of England will cost the economy an estimated £59million a year.

THE social landlord behind Huntingdon's new eco-housing development this week claimed that mobility problems faced by social housing tenants in the East of England will cost the economy an estimated £59million a year.

Circle Anglia, which last week launched Greenhart Grove, in Hartford, a development of 29 high-quality low-carbon homes, says all social landlords should join a national mutual exchange register, the Government should remove barriers that prevent people from moving, and it should incentivise mobility by linking health and employment initiatives more directly with mobility.

Circle Anglia director David Williams said: "Social housing residents here in the East of England want to move for a number of reasons, including health, to care for sick family members, to escape overcrowding or to seek work in more prosperous areas. Whatever the reason, one thing is clear - it is near impossible to make the move on the transfer list, and the social and economic costs to the UK are devastating."

Circle Anglia, which runs the UK's only national, not-for-profit mutual exchange service - www.houseexchange.org.uk, commissioned think tank Human City Institute to investigate the impact that lack of mobility in social housing has on society.

The report reveals that the barriers faced by social housing tenants wanting to move home nationwide, are costing at least £542 million each year across the whole of the UK's economy.

Human City estimates that 495,000 of the UK's 3.9 million social households are victims of the UK's 'social housing squeeze': they want to move home, but are unable to do so. The report identifies the key reasons why people want to move, and calculates the economic and social costs of people not being able to move. The total estimated £542 million annual economic cost is broken down by:

£305 million based on tenants not being able to care for relatives. Recent research suggests the average carer is saving the nation £15,260 each year (Carers UK)

£81 million to the NHS, for example, through costs of overcrowded and poor housing associated with GP consultations, associated treatments and hospital visits

£48 million based on tenants wanting to move into employment, but unable to do so. Factors include the ongoing costs of welfare payments and the lost tax revenues

£18 million based on tenants wanting to move to take up better work but unable to do so. Factors here include the cost to the economy in terms of lost productivity and potential increased tax revenues through higher earnings.

£32 million based on educational under-attainment from overcrowding: factors include a lack of quiet space in which to do homework and disputes caused by sharing of bedrooms.

£58 million to the criminal justice system. The social exclusion unit has discovered that the provision of stable, good quality housing can reduce reoffending rates appreciably.

The study finds that 24 per cent of social housing residents in the East of England say they want to move properties. Yet new letting opportunities to existing tenants in the region have seen a 62 per cent decline over the past 13 years, combined with a major fall, over the same period, of 500,000 in the number of available houses in the sector nationally and an escalation in demand for social housing, with one in 12 households in England now on waiting lists.