Welsh government mistake meant Rhondda hamburger bar was about to close for good

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One business was ‘an inch’ from final closure after being told it was not eligible for any Welsh government grants.

The owners of Loaded Burgers and Fries in Gelli, Rhondda, were waiting to see if he was eligible to receive one of the grants from the Welsh Government’s Economic Resilience Fund.

On Monday, they received an email telling them they weren’t eligible, leaving owner Natalie Bowen distraught.

Read more: Our opinion on Loaded Burgers and Fries

The only explanation given on the email is: “The company did not meet the eligibility criteria for the Economic Resilience Fund”.

She said she risked having to lay off her 10 employees and shut down the business. Ms Bowen said the business had lost “well over” 60% of its physical income and was unable to open for the first half of May until the restrictions were lifted. She had considered taking out private bank loans to keep it afloat.

“We were promised a grant every step of the way and that didn’t happen. In England, Northern Ireland and Scotland, everyone got a block grant which is a much larger amount of money.

“I run a hotel business that’s nominated for multiple awards, it’s the only LGBT + safe space in Rhondda Cynon Taf and it’s about an inch away from having to close due to lack of funding. feather in the hat of the local community. “



Natalie and Lauren Bowen run the business together

The restaurant opened on its current site in May, but has been offering take-out since last November.

Welsh government grants come either from Business Wales or, depending on the size of the business, from the local council. Her rejection email came from Rhondda Cynon Taf’s advice although a Business Wales adviser told her and via the online eligibility checker that she would be eligible.

But when WalesOnline asked the Welsh government to explain why she was turned down, they explained that there had been a mistake and that she should not have been contacted by the council at all, but she was eligible and the grant is managed by Business Wales.

The Welsh government maintains it has offered businesses still affected by coronavirus restrictions a huge amount of support throughout the pandemic and this week announced new grants for those still affected. But the companies told WalesOnline it hadn’t been enough and not the same as in England or Scotland – which the Welsh government denies.

A Welsh government spokesperson said: “The request for support has been approved by Business Wales.”

Rhondda Cynon Taf’s counsel has been contacted for comment.


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