A SCHEME has been launched to help families struggling to pay high fuel bills.

Qwest Energy, the local energy offer for residents across the Cheshire West and Chester, has introduced a new discounted energy tariff for households with prepayment meters.

It follows last week’s launch of Quest Energy, a partnership between the council, Qwest Services and Engie, a leading energy company.

The new discounted tariff has been specifically designed to assist households impacted most by fuel poverty.

People experiencing fuel poverty are defined as households with lower-than-average income but higher-than-average energy costs.

This discounted tariff is a vital way to help those on fixed incomes who use prepayment meters, as these meters are often more expensive than being on a long-term fixed rate tariff.

A spokesman for the West Cheshire Poverty Truth Commission, said: “Those who have the least often end up paying more to live. It's only when you don't have any money that you've got to start thinking about saving money.”

Through this partnership with the council, every new customer who signs up to Qwest Energy will help contribute to a community fund that will support local affordable warmth initiatives and help address fuel poverty into the long term.

The community fund will also provide energy efficiency advice workshops and drop-in sessions throughout the borough, and home visits for people on income-related benefits to provide tailored advice on saving energy.

It is estimated that the fund could see up to £600,000 invested back into the community over the next five years.

Dominic Griffiths, business relationship manager for Energy Projects Plus, said: “Home visits as part of Qwest Energy’s community fund are really crucial.

"They will offer the most bespoke advice to each household as possible and physically point out to people ways to save energy and money.”

Cllr Karen Shore, cabinet member for the environment, said: “Promoting home energy efficiency and tackling fuel poverty is a priority in the council’s 2016-2020 energy and carbon reduction strategy. "This discounted tariff couldn't have come at a better time as we approach winter. Nobody should have to choose between heating and eating or other basic needs for their family.”

All households can support the community fund by considering Qwest Energy’s tariff options.

Visit qwestenergy.co.uk and enter your postcode for further details. Residents can also do this to check if they are eligible for the discounted prepayment tariff.