THE families of murder victims in East Lancashire have described a government decision to cut support funding for families as a ‘disgrace’.

It has been revealed relatives of murder or manslaughter victims will only receive support from central government if the crime occurred after April 2010, meaning support for all other vulnerable families will cease this October.

Sylvia Lancaster, whose daughter Sophie, 20, a former Haslingden High School pupil, was killed in August 2007 after being beaten unconscious in Stubbylee Park, Bacup, because she dressed like a goth, said more support needed to be made available for families, not less.

She said: “Let’s be honest, the funding cut is a laugh. This news has made me angry.

“My take on it is there is little enough support as it is for victims and families. It is a disgrace.

“Victim impact is something that you cannot measure in time, it is an ongoing process.

“It is like the government is saying families of people who died before 2010 are over it, but that is not true.

“The support needs to be there for as long as it is needed.

“It is just not right that it is being cut.

“Once again, it is people who need it that are suffering from cutbacks.”

And Penny Clough, whose daughter Jane was killed in July 2010 by her former partner Jonathan Vass, said she thought the decision was ‘absolutely wrong’.

Mrs Clough, from Barrowford, said: “The point is Jane died after the cut off date, but we are still struggling to cope with the fact that she was murdered.

“It is already so hard to get any kind of help. It is very difficult to accept and it is not fair.

“My belief is that if murderers are in prison, they will get support like counselling or psychiatric help throughout all their stay, but because we are the victims, we do not get it and that is wrong.”

Lancashire’s police and crime commissioner Clive Grunshaw said he wanted the government to reconsider its decision.

He said: “I cannot even begin to understand the pain and anguish experienced by the families of murder and manslaughter victims.

"They are extremely vulnerable and help and support for them is not something which can be time-limited.

“I also call on our local MPs to consider the impact this decision may have on vulnerable families who have been the victim of extreme tragedy in their constituencies, and lobby ministers for a change.”

Police and crime commissioners will be responsible for commissioning victims' services at a local level from October, but the government had previously said funding for all bereaved families would remain central.

Currently, the government provides a total budget of £250,000 to organisations who then provide support to victims.