Skip to content

Bulb bailout: taxpayer cost has increased to £6.5bn, says OBR

Bulb OBR
Image credit: mundissima via Shutterstock

The taxpayer cost for bailing out the collapsed energy startup Bulb has increased to £6.5bn, according to data released by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR).

The OBR has said that an additional £4.6bn has been added to the government expense of dealing with the company in 2022-23.

The OBR said in March that the state rescuing of Bulb would cost £2.2bn over two years.

Bulb, which had around 1.5 million customers at the time of its collapse, was put into a special form of administration handled by the government, which has essentially run the company since November of last year.

Rival energy company Octopus agreed in late October to take over the collapsed firm following a prolonged sales process that featured a number of other energy bidders. The terms of the deal are not currently clear. Octopus Energy is part of the Octopus Group, which owns Octopus Ventures – an active investor in UK tech startups.

“The cost of the Bulb intervention has increased essentially because it lasted for more months than was factored into the March forecast,” said Andy King, a member of the OBR committee.

“So the transfer to Octopus has happened six months later. The loss that was incurred operating Bulb in between those two time periods is the additional cost.”

Bulb was founded as a challenger to the highly established legacy energy firms. While the firm grew quickly, it consistently ran at a loss.