Bulb energy collapse: what customers can do

·5-min read
Bulb energy collapse: what customers can do. Photo: Bulb
Bulb customers, including those with prepayment meters, do not need to do anything now, according to government advice. Photo: Bulb

Soaring energy prices claimed another UK supplier on Monday, as Bulb Energy collapsed into administration.

Bulb, which catered to 1.7 million customers, was Britain's seventh biggest energy supplier.

It had been engaged in eleventh-hour talks with the government, as well as its largest creditor, the Sequoia Economic Infrastructure Income Fund.

Bulb announced that they will support placing the company into a Special Administration Regime (SAR). Ofgem plan to apply urgently to the court to appoint energy administrators to continue running Bulb.

If you're a Bulb customer, here's what you can do.

Watch: Customers and industry leaders react to Bulb collapse

I’m a Bulb customer, will my bills now be instantly going up?

Bulb customers, including those with prepayment meters, do not need to do anything now, according to government advice. 

The government and energy regulator Ofgem have assured customers that their energy supplies will continue to flow as usual and credit balances are protected.

You will not experience any immediate rise in energy bills if the company is under energy administrators.

However, prices could be going up as "it’s clear that with wholesale prices going through the roof, it’s proving nigh-on impossible for companies to make money under the current price cap. It raises the risk that we could see a significant hike in April next year,” said the experts at Hargreaves Lansdown.

Do I need to switch to a new supplier?

You do not need to look for a new energy supplier, although you are free to do so if you want to.

However, "it’s likely they will already be on the best tariff on the market", the government said.

"Bulb only offers one variable tariff for credit meter customers and one for prepay customers; both priced at the maximum allowed under energy regulator Ofgem's price cap," said Andrew Capstick from moneysavingexpert.com.

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"Due to the energy market crisis, with wholesale prices (what providers pay) at record highs, there's nothing cheaper than this right, so don't be tempted by firms telling you to switch or you may pay 30% more — simply do nothing."

The energy price cap limits the rates a supplier can charge for their default tariffs and includes the standing charge and price the units your bill is calculated from.

Should I cancel my direct debit?

"It's important not to cancel your direct debit payment. Bulb will remain your supplier and will continue to charge you at your current rate for now," said Capstick.

"If you do cancel your direct debit, you may end up paying more as the energy price cap is lower for those paying by direct debit compared to other methods of payment."

Moneysavingexpert.com advises customers to "download or take a screen grab of your latest statement and any credit amounts just in case you need these as proof to show a new supplier or the administrator later down the line."

You may also want to take a meter reading.

What should I do if I have credit with Bulb?

If your account is in credit and you're owed money by Bulb, don't worry. The credit will stay on your account and you can use it pay for future energy use or request a refund as normal.

If you've recently left Bulb but they still owe you credit, Bulb, or the administrator, will still pay this to you.

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If you're in debt to Bulb you will still have to pay this back.

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

What is a Special Administration Regime?

An SAR is a "long-standing, well-established mechanism available to the government and the energy regulator Ofgem to protect energy consumers and ensure continued energy supply when a supplier fails", the government said.

It has been put in place because Bulb's customer base of 1.7 million was too big for any other supplier to take on as a "supplier of last resort".

What should I do if I need help with my energy bills?

Low income households can apply for support with energy bills in several ways.

Through the warm homes discount eligible households can receive a one-off £140 ($187) discount on their energy bill this winter. As long as you qualify, even if you’re moved to a new supplier, they will still give you this discount. 

Read more: Bulb Energy collapses into administration

Winter fuel payments worth between £100 and £300 are paid automatically to people receiving the state pension or other social security benefit, not including housing benefit, council tax reduction, child benefit or universal credit.

Cold weather payments are £25 payments for vulnerable households on qualifying benefits when the weather has been, or is forecasted to be, unusually cold. It’s paid to eligible households for each 7-day period of very cold weather between 1 November and 31 March.

Watch: How to save money on a low income

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