Housing minister Sir George Young has backed down from proposals which threatened to put families on the street before they were given accommodation.
Councils will retain a duty to provide assistance while they are considering applications. But ministers still intend to remove the obligation for councils to house the homeless permanently. Councils would only have to provide housing for a year, then councils would check that families still qualify as homeless.
Homeless people would have to join the other 1.2 million people on waiting lists to gain a permanent home. Sir George said 12 months would be enough to find permanent accommodation.