Indian restaurants are planning to lobby the Government for short-term UK visas to help tackle a skills crisis in the industry which is leading to closures.
A submission prepared by British Curry Awards founder Enam Ali will be sent to the Prime Minister and key members of the Cabinet, including Home Secretary Theresa May. It said that nine out of 10 British curry restaurants face a skills shortage, two years after David Cameron pledged to help the industry get the chefs it needs.
The submission said: “We know historically that immigration is a political exercise for any party who wants to use it to gain a political advantage, but sadly it is the curry industry that is paying the price for it.
“We therefore urge the Government to help our industry and we strongly recommend that the immigration laws covering bringing in chefs from abroad be made, even on a temporary basis, more adequately flexible.”
It suggests that the UK follows the example of countries such as the US, Germany and the Middle East, where short term visas are granted and the skilled workers leave the country at the end of their visa.
Around 100,000 people work in Indian restaurants in the UK but Mr Ali is concerned that hundreds of outlets could be forced to close because of the lack of trained chefs. He said it can take three years for a chef to reach the required standard and pointed out that second and third generation Indians in the UK are now seeking work in better-paid jobs such as IT.
Shabir Mughal, from the Spicy Mint restaurant in Manchester, told The Independent: “It’s a full-blown crisis. Indian and Pakistani restaurants across the country are in the same situation. The visa criteria make it impossible to bring in the right people.”