The closure of a support charity due to a funding cut will have a “devastating' impact on young families, according to a councillor.

Home-Start Epping Forest, based on Oakwood Hill Industrial Estate in Loughton, is being forced to close at the end of August after 24 years.

Yearly grants from Essex County Council (ECC) and the West Essex Clinical Commission Group expired last year.

ECC said last month funding was cut due to Home-Start's focus on families with children under five.

Criteria for ECC's Family Innovation Fund (FIF) Grants Programme require groups to offer suppport for nchildren between the ages of five and 19.

Home-Start has provided help to 1,100 families with young children and supports parents as they learn to cope, improve their confidence and build better lives for their families.

Loughton Town Independent Cllr Stephen Murray last month wrote to Epping Forest MP Eleanor Laing and Essex county councillors about his concern over the closure, but was told the decision was final.

He said: “I am not happy with the decision and it is desperately sad.

“I have always said that early intervention is really useful to stop issues from growing, without support I worry that this will have a devastatingly negative effect on young families in Loughton.

“Extra support in a crucial time in a child’s life is really important for their development.

“There is no place for vulnerable people to go now as there is nothing in the area that offers the same kind of support.

“Children below five need support and a lot of families will miss out now, they may be capable of coping but need extra support to get through a crisis situation.

When contacted today, ECC said it already made significant investment for support of under-fives in the county. 

A spokesman said: “Home Start Epping were aware their funding ended in 2013, and while Essex County Council is saddened it feels it has to close due to reduced income, we cannot afford to keep funding projects just because we have historically done so."

ECC then pointed out that there is another two children's centres who serve Loughton families and are run by national charity Spurgeons.

Little Buddies is based in Victoria Road, Buckhurst Hill, while Little Oaks is located in Torrington Drive, Loughton.