Bulb Energy, which has 1.7m customers – including, it is thought, many thousands of landlords – is to be put into administration.

It is the seventh-largest UK energy company, and easily the biggest to face difficulties following a sharp rise in wholesale gas prices this year.

Bulb will become the first energy company to be placed into “special administration” where it is run by the government – temporarily at least – through the regulator Ofgem. This measure is only used if Ofgem is unable to find another company to take over an energy firm’s customers.

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