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UK migrants' cap will hit Indian restaurants

June 30, 2010 10:08 IST

Tadka dal or chicken tikka masala will not taste the same in Britain due to the annual cap on migrants announced by Home Secretary Theresa May.

The new step to curb immigration will prevent Indians restaurants from hiring experiences chefs from the Indian sub-continent.

Owners of Indian restaurants say that changes to immigration announced earlier had already made it difficult to hire chefs from India. The new annual limit will make the situation worse, they say.

May yesterday announced an annual limit of 24,100 for non-European Union professionals to be allowed into the UK until April 2011. The move could hit thousands of highly skilled Indian professionals who will not be able to take up jobs in Britain after the government announced the new cap.

Dharmesh Lakhani, a partner of the popular Bobby's Indian restaurant in Leicester, said: "It's always been a problem. You can have people train up as chefs in the UK, but it's not the same as having a chef who has worked in restaurants in India and know about all the different styles of cooking".

"That's really important for good Indian restaurants. If they make it harder to recruit these people, it could definitely be damaging for business," he said, adding "What if we wanted to expand, or if one of our current chefs left and we weren't able to replace them?"

Lakhani, who is also chairman of Belgrave Business Association, said other specialist businesses in the area, such as tailors and spice millers, could also find it hard to get the right staff.

Abu Taher, owner of T&K Balti restaurant, said: "It's very hard to find the right people for the kitchen. We need to be able to bring in staff from overseas. I believe the cap is something that will concern all restaurants, big and small."

Leicester businessman Jaffer Kapasi was "cautious" about the handling of the issue by the government as it affects other businesses too.

"I'm cautious about the way the government is handling this. It goes for Indian restaurants, but it affects other businesses too," he said.

"If we are able to bring in people who have been educated in India or East Africa, for example, we are getting people who are ready-made for business and will work efficiently and consistently," Kapasi underlined.

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