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Industry said, “The British appetite for Indian and Oriental cuisine has culminated into a massive industry

generating billions of pounds in revenue. Such has been the explosion in numbers of restaurants in the last 20 years, and continuing present day growth, that the industry has become a victim of its own success in the area of human resources. This is mainly due to a nationwide shortage of specialist chefs within the British labour market with the skills and desire to work in the trade. However the most profound present day cause of chronic staff shortages is the diminishing supply of work permit chefs as they exercise their permanent residency entitlement (also referred to as indefinite leave to remain) and immediately opt out of existing employment. The industry has become the biggest casualty of recent constraints within work related immigration policy, and policy makers misjudgement of its traditional reliance of overseas sourced skilled chefs. The government urgently needs to address this problem from the perspective of a landmark industry whose product and service is in constant and ever increasing demand. Tens of thousands of livelihoods and business legacies are now under threat due to severe government restrictions that have emanated

from recommendations made by uninformed advisory bodies that have little or no awareness of the Asian cuisine industry business model.

Thousands of restaurants up and down the country are already suffering from staff shortages. The industry simply cannot operate let alone grow without supply of relevant skilled workforce. If the government does not allow the industry to access desperately needed skilled chefs before too long there will be inevitable closures and thousands of direct and indirect job losses. The failure to correctly identify our industry’s needs and apply correct workable solutions will lead to the demise of an essential part of British life, both for those who make a living from providing Britain’s favourite food. Short sighted and misguided government policy on work related immigration has been a knife in heart to the British Curry Industry!”


Ahmed, Restaurant owner and Director of North West London

Chamber of Commerce points out,

“The restaurateur normally lives in the same area as his restaurant and is often involved with local activities, helping the community. When they are accused of employing illegal labour, despite often being totally innocent, they feel so embarrassed that they cannot

face their local community. Also, children suffer as they go to local schools and they are hearing the same blame game.”

The demonisation of curry

restaurant owners through these immigration raids is doing nothing to encourage the younger, British-born generation to step in and take over their elders business as they know the risks and hard work behind every restaurant. The Government’s tax policies are another burden. The 20% VAT rate is encouraging customers to shift their spending towards ready-made meals in supermarkets where chilled curries are exempt from VAT. A reduction in the VAT rate to 5% on restaurant meals would give a big boost to the industry and help level the playing field with the supermarkets. Competition from supermarkets is adding to problems caused by the serious staffing crisis in the sector as there is strong evidence to show that the major retailers are increasing their share of the market, despite the fact that they are offer lower quality, and smaller portions and are machine rather than hand-made. Restaurants and takeaways

are losing out on so many levels, from labour and tax to tough competition from supermarkets. More and more of them will close if nothing is done to help them. Spice Business urges all restaurant owners to write to their local MP, if necessary including this article, highlighting the problems that they face. If enough write in then maybe the politicians will start to listen. n 47

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