Background to the report

In November 2021, Bulb Energy Limited (Bulb) announced that it could no longer continue trading. To protect consumers and ensure continued energy supply, Bulb was taken into Special Administration Regime (SAR) on 24 November 2021.

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Bulb’s customers have now been transferred to a new provider (HiveCo) owned by the Octopus Energy Group (Octopus).

The SAR process is expected to cost the taxpayer an estimated £3.02 billion gross as of 31 January 2023, and the government expects to recover all the taxpayer funding.

This report sets out the facts about this process.

Scope of the report

BEIS identified five objectives in relation to Bulb:

  • to ensure Bulb customers continue to be protected
  • minimise cost to the consumer
  • prevent or minimise negative impacts on the wider energy market
  • deliver the Mergers and Acquisition process
  • exit from the SAR as quickly as possible and ensure that all costs are recovered.

BEIS assembled a cross-government team, including HM Treasury and Ofgem (as an observer), to monitor the Bulb process and approve relevant decisions and recommendations.

On 7 February 2023, BEIS was abolished as part of wider machinery of government changes. The new Department for Energy Security & Net Zero (DESNZ) assumed responsibility for BEIS’s energy portfolio, including the matters discussed in this report. This report considers BEIS’s and subsequently DESNZ’s progress in achieving these objectives.


Bulb’s 1.5 million customers continue to be protected and the sale process, which lasted for 10 months, was concluded on 20 December 2022. The government has achieved its objectives to maintain supplies to Bulb customers and to complete the sale process.

It is too early to conclude on the achievement of the remaining objectives: to minimise cost to the consumer, prevent or minimise negative impacts on the wider energy market, deliver exit from the SAR quickly and ensure all costs are recovered.

The government decided to take on the risks of rising and falling wholesale energy prices. This decision resulted in an unplanned taxpayer benefit from the reduction in wholesale energy prices from the peak in August 2022 to the prices in January 2023. Several risks remain to the recovery of taxpayer funding, which may ultimately be absorbed by household customers.


Publication details

Press release

View press release (29 Mar 2023)

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