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The ailing energy retailer Bulb Energy was put into special administration in September 2021 as a result of financial difficulties. Rival firm Octopus Energy has asked the government for a £1bn of public funding package in order to take over Bulb.

But a new opinion poll has found that a plurality of the public support a different approach. A poll from Survation found that 43 per cent of the public back Bulb being taking into public ownership, rather than bailed out. Just 29 per cent said they thought it should be sold to Octopus Energy, with 28 per cent saying they didn’t know.

The findings come on the eve of energy regulator Ofgem raising the energy price cap.

Anti-privatisation campaigners have claimed that this shows the popularity of publicly owned energy, and argue that a energy supplier in public ownership could be utilised to alleviate the cost of living crisis and deliver cheaper bills. Campaign group We Own It – which commissioned the polling – has said bringing Bulb into public ownership would unlock “a key solution to this crisis”.

Lead campaigner at We Own It, Johnbosco Nwogbo told Bright Green, 

The government’s obsession with privatisation continues to cost British energy users dearly, especially the poorest and the elderly. While our energy bills keep going up, energy users in France are paying less. It really isn’t magic. We know that people in countries that have some form of public ownership of energy pay 20-30% less than countries like the UK that allow private companies to profiteer from our energy. It is time we unlocked a key solution to this crisis and there is no better place to start than with Bulb. Let’s put aside ideology and put people before private profits.

We Own It highlight that energy bills in France have risen by just 4 per cent, with publicly owned EDF absorbing the costs of spikes in the cost of energy. Previous polling from Survation and commissioned by We Own It found that 66 per cent of the public think energy should be run in the public sector.

A petition calling for Bulb to be nationalised had be signed by over 20,000 people at the time of publication.

The main political parties have ruled out taking energy companies into public ownership as a way to alleviate the cost of living crisis. Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats have instead called for a multi-billion pound bailout of the industry in order to freeze the energy price cap.

The Green Party of England and Wales has called for the big five energy retail firms to be taken into public ownership and the cap subsequently reverted to its October 2021 level.

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