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As I write this editorial, the General Election is in full swing and it prom- ises to be one of the closest and most important elections, for many years. Small and medium businesses like restaurant owners are facing some tough challenges and the election will have a big impact on their futures.

The recent budget did not find favor with many and there are concerns about the tax and NI plans of the present govern- ment. The Conservatives also have to come up with some credible plans for bridging the current budget deficit and the Liberal Democrats ideas have to be considered carefully as there may well be a hung parliament in which they have the balance of power, if the polls are correct.

Immigration is a key issue for the coun- try, but is one which none of the major parties seem willing to make a high profile in this election. For our busi- ness, the problem is that tougher con- trols and the new points based system are leading to a serious skills shortage which we are having trouble filling. At least the Tories have listened to us and in their election manifesto have proclaimed to allow immigration of all who bring in values to UK and cannot be replaced by locals. Who could be a better candidate than the chefs from the Indian subcontinent?

On the other hand, this March the Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced

that the two largest shortage occu- pations under which skilled workers could come in under the points-based system – care workers and skilled chefs – would be taken off the short- age list in 2012 and 2014 respectively. He said that by then sufficient local people would be trained to do the jobs. We have severe doubts that this will be the case, and as we have pointed out in the past it is not easy to find local people with the skills, or the desire needed. Foreign students have always made up a key source of labor for restaurants but there are some worrying trends in this area as well now. Tough checks are being made and one restaurant owner was recently fined after a part time waiter did not attend classes, even though he had a valid visa and all his documents had been properly checked. The 20 hour rule is also being applied strictly. If you employ a student for more than 20 hours a week you are breaking the law and face tough penalties.

The answer may be that we have to make greater efforts to train unem- ployed local people. But we need gov- ernmental support, from whatever party, to make this happen.

Law and order will be another top issue, but sometimes it seems the law is an ass (idiot), as they say. In this edi- tion of Spice Business we tell the story of a Mr. Miah, a restaurant owner in

Sussex, who found two teenage boys raiding his beer cellar, and who chased and held them while his staff dialled 999. He was then arrested on suspi- cion of assault and battery and ended up getting a caution after spending several hours in the cells. Whatever Government comes into power has to take steps to ensure that victims of crime, like Mr. Miah, are not unfairly punished and that restaurant owners, who face regular anti-social and crim- inal acts, can take action themselves where it is clearly reasonable for them to do so.

The election will be tight, and so the votes of all communities will be impor- tant. Whatever else please exercise your right to vote on May 6th, no matter which party you decide to support.

Also 2010 will see the sixth British Curry Awards and we are working hard to make sure this is the best ever. Details of how to nominate can be found in the magazine and I look forward to seeing you all there on 21st November! Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56
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