ENERGY firms will be stopped from charging customers extra fees if they use pay-as-you-go meters — saving money for four million families.
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.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will announce the crackdown in his Budget this Wednesday.
He will also be encouraging people back into work with a “carrot and stick” approach.
Parents on Universal Credit will also see childcare cash increase and have it paid upfront for the first time, making a workplace return easier.
Hard-pressed mums and dads will be hundreds of pounds better off in a year under the shake-up.
The win for UK Times’s Make Universal Credit Work campaign will also see disabled people able to keep claiming their benefits after returning to work.
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.”
Writing in UK Times on Sunday today, Mr Hunt vowed to stand by the strivers while tackling the shirkers.
He pledged: “We will go further to help struggling Brits.”
He said 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.” The change will kick in on July 1.
Mr Hunt admitted many are struggling to make ends meet thanks to staggering inflation.
But he dampened any hopes that taxes could be cut, saying: “The best tax cut I can give right now is a cut in inflation.”
The Chancellor’s “Back to Work” Budget hopes to address the record nine million Brits of working age who are economically inactive
Many retired early during the pandemic.
Over-50s will be offered so-called “returnerships” — training to get back to work — to get them off the golf course and into the office.