A prospective council house tenant will need to have lived in Birmingham for at least five years before getting on the city's growing waiting list, under a policy unveiled by the Conservatives.

Currently a person only needs to have lived in the city for a year before they can be considered for a council house .

But if the Conservatives take control of the city council following the local elections on May 3 they have vowed to increase the residency requirement.

It is part of a wide-ranging housing policy announced ahead of the city wide vote.

Conservative shadow cabinet member for housing Gary Sambrook said the extension to the residency rule to five years is in line with other councils and "gives those with a long term link to this city priority in the allocation of council housing".

He added there would also be a priority place for armed forces veterans and those who contribute through voluntary and community work.

Other measures include a pledge to build 3,000 homes a year through the council's Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust arm.

They also want to end the use of expensive B&B accommodation for homeless families by increasing the supply and quality of temporary housing as well as work with the West Midlands Mayor and charities, including through the new Housing First pilot scheme, to end rough sleeping.

Coun Gary Sambrook in his day job.
Coun Gary Sambrook

Under the Housing First scheme, pioneered in Finland, rough sleepers are given a permanent home and given support from there rather than moved into temporary hostels or B&Bs and without having to prove they are clean of drug or drink addiction.

Cllr Sambrook (Cons, Kingstanding) said: "In a modern developed country no one should be forced to sleep rough, but tackling the problem requires coordinated action.

"Increasing housing supply is key to addressing the issue and the investment of £350m in our region announced by the Chancellor in his Spring statement, on top of other significant investment already made, will help to increase the pace of building.

"A lack of housing options however is not the only factor impacting on homelessness. Relationship breakdowns, domestic violence and mental health conditions are amongst the primary reasons for street homelessness and these need to be addressed in a coordinated way to achieve the outcomes everyone agrees are needed."

Elections in Birmingham are changing this May - here's the lowdown

The Birmingham Conservative housing manifesto pledges are:

1. Build 3,000 new houses each year by 2022 to help increase the supply of housing across Birmingham, building on the success of the Conservative created Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust

2. Work with West Midlands Mayor Andy Street to pilot the Housing First model to tackle the causes of homelessness and rough sleeping

3. Improve both the quality and supply of temporary accommodation and end the use of B&Bs which are costly and fail to provide the support need

4. Enhance the way people can access support services and report homelessness much more quickly including improved working with external third sector organisations and neighbouring councils. We would also increase the current out of hours provision to ensure additional support is available when it is needed. This would be extended to areas outside of the City Centre as well.

5. Extend the residency rule in Birmingham to at least five years so as to be in line with our neighbours and give those with a long term link to this city priority in the allocation of council housing. We would also give priority to Armed Forces Veterans and to those who actively contribute to their local area through voluntary and community work, rewarding those who make personal sacrifices for others.

6. Link up with the Conservative proposed Gangs and Anti-Social Behaviour taskforce to protect the homeless from exploitation and keep streets safe.