A DESPERATE business owner who lost her husband at the start of lockdown and has fallen through the cracks of government support, has criticised the Welsh Government for treating her “like a number”.

Anika Mothersdale, who jointly owned the Old Rectory Bed and Breakfast in Tintern with husband Ian Mothersdale for 12 years, was tasked with taking on the business herself in March when her husband died.

Mr Mothersdale had been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer in September, and died just before lockdown on March 23.

Mrs Mothersdale says the struggle she has faced since has been “very painful”.

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She didn’t qualify for a small grant or rates relief because she doesn’t pay business rates as she lives in the property and instead pays council tax.

She missed the boat on phase two and three of funding from the Economic Resilience Fund (ERF) – because the company is not VAT registered.

“If we had been a limited company rather than a partnership, we would have qualified for the funding in June, but as a sole trader – which I now am – I had to be VAT registered,” she said.

“On top of this, wealthy friends who have holiday let accommodations as a casual second income, have received plenty of support.”

And while she did qualify for the self-employment income support grant, with small business operations, she says the net income is "nowhere near the operating costs required to maintain a multitude of expenses".

“I had hoped it would be possible to look at individual cases for special circumstances, but the responses I’ve received from the Welsh government informed me that if they make exceptions for me they would have to do the same for everyone.

“I find this logic absurd as the whole point is to look at special circumstances and determine if it is a valid claim or not, if the aim is to realistically help Welsh businesses.

“I am very concerned that I do not have the ability to fund the operating expenses required in these coming months, and there are major expenses that must be met.

“Soon we will be taking in new customers and I am trying to prepare us on my own, with next to no support. I feel as though I have been treated like a number.”

A Welsh Government spokesman said: “We are sorry to hear about the death of this businesswoman’s husband but we are unable to comment on individual cases.

“We are helping as many businesses as possible and our rates relief scheme, business grants and unique Economic Resilience Fund are providing support to thousands of firms across Wales. We have also provided extra funding to the local authority Discretionary Assistance Fund to help more people facing hardship.

“All this is in addition to the UK Government’s support schemes, which should be explored in the first instance.”

A Monmouthshire council spokeswoman said: “The council is currently only responsible for the business grants scheme and the subsequent start-up bursary scheme. The former scheme has closed and the latter would not apply to the business mentioned, all other business support comes from the schemes that Welsh Government has established.

“Our Leader, Peter Fox and Deputy Leader, Bob Greenland continue to lobby hard for a local Discretionary Scheme on behalf of our businesses.

“We are providing information to Ken Skates, Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales on individual cases where people have fallen between the gaps and have been unable to support and the case you refer to is one of these that has been highlighted.”