A charity in Essex has set up a countywide scheme to bulk-buy heating oil for rural communities.

The Rural Community Council of Essex (RCCE) will use the model of a local buying syndicate to negotiate monthly deliveries for homes and businesses.

RCCE estimated around 138,000 homes and businesses in rural Essex do not have mains gas and rely on fuel oil.

By negotiating with oil suppliers for the best price via a national syndicate, they hope to achieve a saving of about £50 on each 1,000 litre delivery.

Its trading arm, the RCCE Trading Community Interest Company, will charge members an annual fee of £20 per household and £100 per business.

Executive director of RCCE, Nick Shuttleworth, said it had no intention to compete with smaller bulk-buying schemes.

"This brings quite a considerable clout and considerable buying power, which can help in the aim of getting fuel price down," he said.

The scheme is one of more than 20 similar schemes in place across the UK, first started in Oxfordshire in 2010.