Mansfield District Council has launched a fuel bank scheme to help people on pre-payment gas or electricity meters who are struggling to pay their energy bills.
The scheme aims to help residents referred by the council for help because they are in danger of being disconnected from their energy supplies.
Thanks to a total of £10,000 in funding from the Fuel Bank Foundation, Feeding Britain and the council's own Covid Winter Grant Scheme, the project will continue until all the fuel vouchers have been allocated.
Cllr Marion Bradshaw, Portfolio Holder for Safer Communities, Housing and Wellbeing, said: "This is a trial scheme which we hope will make a real difference for those who are having to choose between heating or eating.
"These are very difficult times for many people who may have lost their jobs or be living on a reduced income due to the Covid pandemic. But regardless of the reasons, no one should be having to choose between buying food or topping up their energy supplies.
"It is important for people to understand that they cannot apply to the council for a fuel bank voucher themselves. They must be identified as being in need and referred to the scheme by council officers or by a trusted third party."
Where the council identifies a person in need, a voucher can be issued to pay for enough gas or electricity for two weeks. The allowance is £30 in the summer (March-October) and £49 in the winter (November-February). They are entitled to three vouchers in six months but no more than one in a ten-day period.
People cannot self-refer to the council for help from the fuel bank. Referral to the scheme is currently from the council's own Housing and Benefits teams. It is hoped this will soon be extended to outside organisations such as the CVS or Citizens Advice.
To be referred by the council for help, a resident must be:
• Responsible for paying for electric and/or gas supply to a household via a pre-payment meter.
• Close to or already using the emergency credit facility on their meter/meters or may have already disconnected themselves.