Hundreds of vulnerable homeless people face being turned out on to the streets amid confusion over how local authorities should interpret a legal ruling which could trigger the closure of emergency night shelters.
Some shelters which rely on housing benefit payments to fund their operations could be forced to shut after a court ruled that they do not legally constitute a dwelling, and so cannot claim the benefit on behalf of shelter users.
One shelter has been forced to shut its doors after Salford council in Greater Manchester said it would no longer accept its housing benefit claims.
The Narrowgate project was giving temporary accommodation to 28 homeless men and women each night. It shut its doors in April after Salford council invoked the ruling and cut off housing benefit payments.