The Caterer

Crisis talks for curry houses as immigration restrictions continue to take their toll

08 February 2016 by
Crisis talks for curry houses as immigration restrictions continue to take their toll

From April this year restaurants that want to employ a chef from outside the EU will have to pay a minimum salary of £35,000, or £29,750 with accommodation and food, in order for their employees to qualify for UK visas.

Tough immigration rules are being made even more stringent and have led to emergency talks being called and organised by the Catering Circle, a body set up to share the issues facing family-run and often remote businesses, later this week, in Wembley, London.

The report in The Guardian yesterday tells of a growing number of Bangladeshi, Indian and Pakistani proprietors who are finding running a curry house increasingly tough, with 600 curry house owners expected to attend the talks to find ways to ensure a long-term future for their sector.

Ahmed us-Samad Chowdhury, the chief adviser to Catering Circle, and a former restaurant owner, said: "We need to work as a community to solve the crisis."

Oli Khan, vice-president of the Bangladeshi Caterers Association, the largest of the many trade bodies claiming to represent the industry, runs curry houses in Luton and Stevenage and pays his own chefs between £18,000 and £25,000 and warns that in future only the most successful restaurants will be able to absorb the wage rise.

"This is an inflexible policy," he said. "It will force up costs and inevitably lead to more curry restaurants going out of business.

"Indian cooking is an art, yet we are being prevented from hiring the staff we need."

Chair of the all-party group of the British Curry Catering Organisation, Paul Scully, MP for Sutton and Cheam, will be attending this week's event and added: "It is unimaginable to think of Britain without a curry house on every high street."

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