The benefit cap means that people should not get more in benefit payments than the average wage paid to people in work.
Local councils have specific legal duties towards homeless people, homless charity Shelter have said.
If any person who is homeless or threatened with homelessness approaches the council for help, it has to provide them with advice and assistance.
Social services also have duties to sometimes help certain groups of people who become homeless, the charity have said. These groups include:
- Most young people under the age of 18.
- People who have been in care (normally up to age 21 or up to the age of 24 if you are still in full-time education).
- People with disabilities.
- People with mental health problems older people.
Social services may also be able to help families with children but they are not legally obliged to provide accommodation where everyone can live together.
According to homless charity Shelter, the council will consider you homeless if:
- You have no home in the UK or anywhere else in the world.
- You have no home where you can live together with your immediate family.
- You can only stay where you are on a very temporary basis.
- You don't have permission to live where you are.
- You have been locked out of home and you aren't allowed back.
- You can't live at home because of violence or abuse or threats of violence or abuse, which are likely to be carried out against you or someone else in your household.
- It isn't reasonable for you to stay in your home for any reason (for example, if your home is in very poor condition).
- You can't afford to stay where you are.
- You live in a vehicle or boat and you have nowhere to put it.
Homelessness in England means not having a home - most people who are homeless don't sleep on the street, according to charity Shelter.
Shelter say that even if you have a roof over your head you can still be homeless.
This is because you may not have any rights to stay where you live or your home might be unsuitable for you due to severe overcrowding or other reasons, it added.
The council must 'check whether you are legally classed as homeless before it can decide what help you are entitled to', say the charity.
– David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation
In a B&B whole families can find themselves sharing one room and they are often shut out of their accommodation during the day, causing huge disruption todaily routines of school and work.
Every child deserves a decent home to comeback to after school, where they feel secure, and where they can sit down to do their homework. That is what temporary accommodation provides.
Without the safety net of temporary accommodation, thousands more families will find themselves in a vicious cycle of homelessness.
- Crisis homes, in the form of houses or flats leased by local authorities and housing associations, provides short-term homes to around 26,000 homeless families, the National Housing Federation has said.
- This accommodation is more stable and secure than B&Bs, with the space and access required for children to live a normal life and for parents to work their way out of homelessness and towards a better future, the report has said.
- The Government has not yet confirmed how the benefit cap will affect people living in temporary accommodation and what measures will be taken to protect the service.
From April 2013, families living in crisis homes could be hit by the new universal benefit cap, which will limit the total amount of benefit they can claim to £500 a week, the report has claimed.
As short-term emergency accommodation is more expensive to rent and manage, this could mean families are unable to pay rent pushing them back into B&Bs, the National Housing Federation have said.
- With homeless rates increasing again the demand for emergency temporary accommodation, such as B&Bs, is getting higher.
- National Housing Federation research found that between January and March 2011 there were 2,750 families nationwide living in B&Bs.
- Over the same period in 2012 this had risen to 3,960, an increase of 44%.
The number of homeless families living in temporary bed and breakfast (B&B's) accommodation has risen by almost half in the first few months of 2012, a study has found.
This comes after 2011 and 2012 also saw consecutive rises in overall numbers of homeless - the first rise in seven years - pushing homelessness up 26% in two years.