The government should consider issuing temporary one-year ‘vindaloo visas’ to Asian chefs to help solve the British curry crisis.
The government itself has warned that curry restaurants could soon be closing at a rate of four a week, with further claims that 50% of all Indian restaurants – about 6,000 – will shut within 10 years. One of the major factors for these closures has been a lack of skilled chefs due to overly restrictive immigration rules.
The industry wrote to Theresa May, when Home Secretary, in April last year with suggestions to issue temporary one-year visas to skilled, experienced South Asian chefs who could then pass on their skills to British trainees. These would be tightly controlled, with no out-of-work benefits, to avoid abuses of previous temporary visa schemes.
Enam Ali, the author of the report who also runs the British Curry Awards, has dubbed this the ‘vindaloo visa’.
The government received excellent suggestions on how to solve this problem over 18 months ago, but this well-researched 75-page document has sadly gone ignored.
Theresa May must revisit these proposals, which include a tightly controlled, one-year work visa, so that our curry restaurants can bring expert chefs to the UK and to train the next generation of curry cooks.
The curry industry is rightly aggrieved by Brexiteer false promises that a vote to Leave would mean more workers, including chefs, from South Asia could come in to the country, because there would be fewer EU workers. This has not materialised.
We need more urgent measures, including what has been dubbed a ‘vindaloo visa’, to save the nation’s favourite cuisine.