The government is due to hold crisis talks with energy companies over fears that more suppliers will go bankrupt as they struggle to cope with soaring gas prices.
Four energy providers have collapsed in the past fortnight as wholesale gas prices have risen 250% since January and 70% since last month, according to industry organization OGUK.
Utility Point, People’s Energy, PfP Energy and MoneyPlus Energy, which collectively supplied more than half a million domestic customers, have all gone out of business.
Bulb, the UK’s sixth-largest energy company, is asking for a government bailout to stay afloat.
A Bulb spokesperson said: “From time to time we explore various opportunities to fund our business plans and continue our mission of reducing bills and CO2 emissions. Like everyone in the industry, we monitor wholesale prices and their impact on our business.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng met with regulator Ofgem on Sunday and will meet with industry bosses today to discuss granting emergency loans to struggling energy companies.
Kwarteng tweeted, “I understand this will be a worrying time for businesses and consumers. We are working hard to manage the impact of global gas price increases.
“Unfortunately, small energy suppliers are facing pressure from the sudden rise in global gas prices.
“In the event of a supplier failure, Ofgem will ensure that the gas and electricity supply to customers continues without interruption. “
Foreign Minister James Cleverly said the government wanted energy suppliers “to stay afloat through their own efforts”.
Speaking to BBC Breakfast, he said: “At the end of the day what we want to do is make sure they stay afloat organically.
“Businesses should ideally stay afloat through their own efforts. What we want to make sure is that we protect the integrity of our supply, we protect consumers, both commercial and residential, and we will discuss with industry how best to do this.
“We want to see diversity in the market, of course we do, we also want to protect, like I said, consumers. Exactly how we do this is up for discussion, and I’m not going to speculate on the program exactly how this might happen.
What to do if your energy company goes bankrupt
As part of Ofgem’s safety net, the energy supply to customers is expected to continue uninterrupted and any overdue credit balances will be protected.
The regulator advises not to change providers until a new one has been appointed and contacted you about your new tariff.
If you are not satisfied with the new price, you can change providers.