Bulb: Britain's seventh biggest energy supplier collapses into administration

ITV News Consumer Editor Chris Choi speaks to experts about the UK's energy crisis as Bulb becomes the largest supplier to fail so far

Struggling energy supplier Bulb, which has 1.7 million customers, has been placed into special administration, the company has announced.

Britain's seventh-biggest energy supplier, which was founded in 2015, assured customers their tariffs will not change as a result of the decision.

The company’s exit from the market comes following the collapse of more than 20 suppliers since the start of the year amid the soaring price of gas.

Taxpayers 'should be worried' as Bulb enters a financial life support system backed by the government, Chris Choi explains

"We have decided to support Bulb being placed into special administration, which means it will continue to operate with no interruption of service or supply to members," a Bulb company statement read.

"If you’re a Bulb member, please don’t worry as your energy supply is secure and all credit balances are protected."

Ofgem said: “Customers will see no disruption to their supply and their account and tariff will continue as normal. Bulb staff will still be available to answer calls and queries.”

Bulb becomes the first company to rely on regulator Ofgem’s special administration regime- which is designed to help protect customers when a large energy supplier can no longer trade.

In the past, failed suppliers have been small enough for their customers to be picked up by one of their rivals. An administrator will be appointed to run the company until it is either rescued, sold, or has its customers transferred to other suppliers.

Under the scheme’s rules, the business secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, can give or loan money to Bulb and other suppliers in special administration.

Ofgem will now use the special administration process to find an administrator for Bulb, with the backing of Kwasi Kwarteng. Credit: PA

Before Monday the biggest energy supplier to collapse was Avro Energy, which had 580,000 customers.

Green Supplier Limited, Igloo Energy and Pure Planet are among the other suppliers which collapsed under the weight of soaring gas prices over recent months.

The rise in gas prices has been attributed to a number of factors, including a cold winter which left stocks depleted, high demand for liquefied natural gas from Asia and a reduction in supplies from Russia.

The market is said to be bracing for scores more failures as energy market prices remain high moving into the winter months.

But experts say Bulb entering administration is a particularly significant moment in the UK's ongoing energy crisis.

Justina Miltienyte, energy policy expert at Uswitch.com, said: “This signals the tipping point of the UK energy crisis. “With Bulb’s 1.7 million customer base, over four million people have now been directly impacted by the turbulent energy market. “But it’s not just Bulb’s size as the seventh largest supplier that makes this so significant. “Unlike some of the smaller suppliers who recently ceased to trade, Bulb operated with a strong business model combined with a competitive offering for consumers.”