A £1 billion shale wealth fund unveiled by former chancellor George Osborne in November will set aside up to 10 per cent of the tax proceeds from fracking to benefit the communities hosting wells.
But now the Prime Minister is amending the scheme so the money can go direct to residents rather than being given to councils or community trusts to spend, as Mr Osborne planned.
It is expected that the new fund could deliver as much as £10 million to each community where wells are sited.
Downing Street declined to estimate how much payouts could be worth, but it is thought that individual households could receive between £5,000 and £20,000.
The change could go some way to countering resident resistance to fracking, but is likely to be characterised by critics as a "bribe" to householders which could divert cash away from community priorities like infrastructure or skills training.
Sites in Shropshire and the surrounding area have previously been earmarked for gas drilling sites. Last year the group Frack Free Dudleston claimed victory in its fight against plans to operate an exploratory borehole to drill for coal-bed methane gas in Dudleston Heath, near Ellesmere. Speaking ahead of the launch of a consultation on the fund, Mrs May said she wanted to make sure that individuals benefit personally from economic decisions.
She indicated that the model could be applied to other Government programmes, such as the Community Infrastructure Levy charge on property development in England and Wales.
"The Government I lead will always be driven by the interests of the many – ordinary families for whom life is harder than many people in politics realise," said Mrs May. "As I said on my first night as Prime Minister, when we take the big calls, we'll think not of the powerful but of you. This announcement is an example of putting those principles into action."