DUDLEY councillors have given their backing to a plan that means people will have to have lived in the borough for at least two years before qualifying to go on the council’s housing list.

The council’s cabinet last night (Wednesday February 13) approved the proposal which has been drafted to meet new statutory guidance on social housing allocations.

Cabinet members gave the thumbs-up for a 12-month trial of the new waiting list criteria - which will not apply to members of the armed forces and their families.

Exemptions will also apply to homeless families and those moving to escape violence; people who have lived in neighbouring authorities for two years and those with a strong local connection may also be accepted onto the list.

Councillor Steve Waltho, Dudley's cabinet member for housing, said present council tenants would not be affected by the changes - only new applicants; and he said the impact of the new rules would be assessed after the 12-month trial.

Dudley's Conservatives called instead for a five-year residency test - which already operates in neighbouring Sandwell.

Cllr Patrick Harley, leader of the borough's Conservative Party, said: "This council needs to make it one of the conditions that people wishing to join the housing waiting list must either have been living here in Dudley or working in Dudley for five years.

"With neighbouring authorities already setting a five-year limit and with new statuary advice being issued it is now time for Labour in Dudley to ensure those who work and live in borough have a chance to get on the housing waiting list and then a realistic chance of a home.”

But cllr Waltho said the council was taking "a very sensible and measured approach" in trialling the new two-year rule for applicants which would give housing bosses chance to "asses whether any problems or major issues arise in that time".