A HUGE energy bill change that will help four million households has been confirmed in today's Budget.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced a shake-up in the rules governing energy firms as part of a package of measures designed to ease the burden of spiralling energy bills.

Mr Hunt revealed that firms will not be allowed to charge people with prepayment meters extra fees in a move that will slash costs for millions.

Prepayment meters are disproportionately used by vulnerable and low-income customers but they typically pay £45 extra a year for energy.

The move means that from July 1, the prepaid price will be the same as that for customers on Direct Debits.

Money saving expert Martin Lewis tweeted that the the difference will be paid by the state and the cut will be equivalent to a 3% price reduction for those on prepayment meters.


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It comes after a national outcry over the bully-boy tactics of companies using debt collectors to force people to have the rip-off meters installed.

Writing in the Sun on Sunday over the weekend, the Chancellor said that it is “clearly unfair” poor households on pay-as-you-go meters are clobbered by higher charges, adding that his changes will save punters around £45 a year.

Mr Hunt said: “This latest reform is proof that we’re always on the side of families.”

Energy Security Secretary Grant Shapps added: “Charging prepayment meter customers more to receive energy is a tax on our most vulnerable — this will stop that.”

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The change will kick in on July 1.

Mr Hunt also confirmed that the Energy Price Guarantee was continued for another three months, capping the average annual energy bill at £2,500 until June 30.

The move will save the typical household £160, with gas and electricity prices expected to fall to £2,000 after that.

Other measures announced in the Budget aimed to help struggling Brits and encourage people back into the workforce.

For example, parents on Universal Credit will see an increase in assistance with childcare, which will also be paid up front for the first time.

Under the old system, hard-up mums and dads would have to spend money on childcare then try and claim it back through the benefits system, rather than seeing a payment in advance.

Claimants with children will be hundreds of pounds better off in a year under the reforms.

The win for The Sun’s Make Universal Credit Work ­campaign will also see disabled people able to keep claiming their benefits after returning to work.

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But those on benefits who can work but refuse to do so will face tougher sanctions and be told their payments will be slashed — no ifs or buts.

A Treasury source said: “If you can work, but refuse a job offer, that’s not on and your benefits will be reduced — no matter where you live or which job centre you use.”

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