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restaurant owners, said, “The opportunity we have to expand the business has been signifi cantly affected by the shortage of skilled labour available to curry restaurants.”

It is perhaps the


shortage of qualifi ed chefs that is the really big issue, as that is at the heart


THE curry sector faces a whole host of problems at the present time. But top of the list are the consequences of the government’s tougher line on immigration. It is very diffi cult to get staff to fi ll vacancies across the board in curry restaurants, including chefs, waiters and kitchen porters, and this means that many restaurants are deciding to close, or are putting their business on the market for sale, because they can’t get the staff. Several others are putting

expansion plans on hold at a cost to the economy. Md. S. Islam, of Green Spice in Kent, one of the younger generation

of the quality provided by a restaurant business. If you can’t fi nd good quality, skilled chefs then the business will inevitably suffer, as customers will tell the difference. However with the new rules in place it is almost impossible to bring in a well qualifi ed, experienced curry chef from abroad. Syedur Rahman Renu,

Vice Chairman of the Guild of Bangladeshi Restaurateurs and owner of Daruchini Restaurant Group in Berkshire, says, “Running a number of restaurants nowadays is such a headache, especially when you cannot fi nd skilled staff to work in the kitchen. Even if you do fi nd one you risk a £10,000 fi ne if you wrongly check his documents.” There are signs that rather

than growing, as it has done over the past 20 years, the spice restaurant sector is now starting to contract as even successful owners fi nd it hard to keep going because of the lack of staff and risk of penalties if they employ the ‘wrong’ people. A Buckinghamshire-based owner, S. Akhter, has decided

to call it a day as a result of the problems he has faced. He told Spice Business: “I have to reluctantly put my restaurant for sale as it was becoming too stressful for me to run as you cannot fi nd skilled chefs in the UK.”

Traditional staffi ng agencies

are also feeling the pinch. S. B. Faruk of Shahnan bureau comments, “I have been running Shahnan employment agency for over 30 years and was recently forced to close down the business as the demand for skilled labour in the curry restaurant sector is huge whereas the supply of this kind of labour is almost nil. My agency has suffered a lot because of the lack of skilled labour in the UK to cope with the demand. It is indeed a very sad situation which has led me to concentrate mainly on the training and educational aspects in the curry industry.” Curry restaurants have tried

recruiting within the UK and the European Union, but with limited success. Restaurateurs have spent large sums of money - around £1000 per person - to give European staff the necessary training, but quite often they stay only a few weeks 45

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