A charity has lost funding because it has not changed its focus to an older age group.

Home Start Epping Forest (HSEF) based in Oakwood Hill Industrial Estate, Loughton, lost around £70,000 funding this year and will now be forced to close at the end of August.

funding was lost after grants from Essex County Council (ECC) and the West Essex Clinical Commission Group (WECCG) expired.

ECC had agreed to fund the charity until 2013 when the Family Innovation Fund (FIF) Grants Programme was introduced.

Home Start, which cost around £100,000 a year to run, is not eligible for FIF grants because they are aimed at five to 19-year-olds and their families however (HSEF) helps families with children under five.

Jane Walters, a trustee at Home Start Epping Forest said: “It is a tragedy and it is with deep, deep, regret and sadness we will have to close.

“We have tried every possible avenue but been unsuccessful.

“There is a lot of funding available to new schemes but not so much for existing initiatives.”

A statement from ECC said: "Other Home Start groups in the county have been awarded funding due to broadening their audience.

“ECC, along with its partners in health is continually evaluating how best to deliver public sector services and considering how best we can support the voluntary and community sector take its place in a system that delivers services to improve outcomes for our families”.

The county council does not currently operate any Children’s Support Services centres in Epping Forest and reduced its Children’s Centre provision in the district earlier this year.