The UK curry industry has slammed government "backtracking" on plans to relax visa restrictions for south Asian chefs post-Brexit.
Curry houses and unions, such as the Bangladesh Caterers Association, supported Britain's exit from the EU after the Leave campaign promised a points-based system of immigration that would make more visas available to south Asian chefs.
However, Theresa May has since ruled out a points-based system, and the government has committed to reducing net migration down below 100,000 a year.
Immigration minister Robert Goodwill suggested in parliament this week that instead of easing migration restrictions, more British people should be trained as curry chefs.
He said: "I lay down a challenge to the restaurateurs in our country to train our own people, because we have tremendously talented people in the UK who would love to train and work in that environment. We do not always need to bring people across from the sub-continent."
The sector, worth £4b a year, has been struggling due to a shortage of chefs. Since April, restaurants that want to employ a chef from outside the EU have had 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.
Enam Ali, founder of the British Curry Awards and Le Raj restaurant in Surrey, said: "People who voted Leave feel let down because they were promised a relaxation of the untenable immigration laws that have been applied to chefs and skilled workers from outside the EU. Many curry houses are fighting for survival, because they cannot get the workers they need. They are further concerned because the weaker pound means that key ingredients, raw materials and produce that are required has already nearly doubled in prices."
Latest video from The Caterer