Curry restaurateurs says they feel let down by the Government as they face problems obtaining UK visas for chefs, and restaurants are being forced to close as a result.
In the last 18 months, more than 1,000 eateries have closed, reducing the number of curry houses in the UK by around 13 per cent, according a recent survey. The main reasons cited were lack of staff.
Enam Ali MBE of trade magazine Spice Business said: “Staff shortages mean many of us are struggling to meet customer expectations, and it is almost impossible to expand as we would like to.”
The industry had backed the Brexit vote in the hope that new immigration policies would make it easier to bring chefs from Asia into Britain. The International Development Secretary, Priti Patel, who had campaigned for a leave vote, had promised that the UK would be able to relax the rules on hiring chefs from abroad and “save” the curry industry.
Chef Oli Khan, who also owns three restaurants, said that he had been forced to increase wages to hang on to staff and he was concerned about the falling value of the pound, which is likely to result in higher food prices.
He told The Independent: “It is very disappointing that Brexit campaigners such as Priti Patel and Boris Johnson, who said the curry industry would be better off the EU, have not kept their promises.”
Restaurateurs had been hoping for the introduction of a point system for immigration, similar to that used in Australia. But Prime Minister Theresa May has rejected this.
Pasha Khandaker, president of the Bangladesh Caterers Association, told The Financial Times he was “very disappointed” that the Government has rejected the points-based system, which the industry hoped would make it easier to recruit chefs from the Indian subcontinent.