Housing services staff fear they will lively have to close, leaving people with specific mental health needs isolated, if the government goes ahead with its new plans.

Instead of being supported to live independently in the community, people severely affected by mental illness are more likely to face distressing and unnecessary stays in hospital under the proposals.

Anyone needing supported housing for fewer than two years will have to rely on cash-strapped local authorities to fund the housing they need.

Rethink Mental Illness surveyed 117 staff members who work in supported housing services for people with mental illness.

Results published today reveal 84 percent believe their service would probably close should the plans go ahead.

"Supported housing is a lifeline for many people with mental illness, for many reasons," said Danielle Hamm, Associate Director for Campaigns and Policy at Rethink Mental Illness.

"It helps people get out of hospital so they can start to get their lives back on track. People severely affected by mental illness are also often vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. This kind of housing offers a place of safety.

"We urge the government to reconsider this potentially disastrous funding model and treat ‘short term’ as just that – as weeks, not years."

A new model for short-term supported housing is being shaped because the introduction of Universal Credit could make funding stays of only a few weeks more complex for tenants and providers.

A range of organisations that provide supported housing have raised concerns. Ministers are expected to confirm whether they are going ahead with the plans in the coming weeks.

"Supported housing plays a crucial role in preventing homelessness for people with mental health issues and reduces the amount of hospital delayed discharges, providing the best chance for a full recovery," said Sean Duggan, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Network.

"Under the current proposals, short-term tenants have no guarantees their housing costs will be covered and will be forced to live day-to-day without the security of a tenancy agreement."