A COVID-19 slump in trade for curry restaurants could lead to “huge” unemployment in Britain’s Bangladeshi, Indian and Pakistani communities, industry experts have warned.
It comes as a new survey found a quarter of curry restaurant owners fear sales will not return to pre-pandemic levels.
Around 86% of curry restaurants said they had lost up to three-quarters of their revenue when the virus struck last year.
British Curry Awards founder Enam Ali, called for the government to appoint a dedicated hospitality minister to focus on a strategy to rescue the struggling industry.
He said: “We now risk far more neighbourhood restaurants shutting their doors for good, wrecking what has been one of the country’s culinary success stories – the sector is worth more than £5bn to the UK economy.
“To save the great British tikka masala, we need support. The appointment of a dedicated hospitality minister focused on a strategy to guide us through the recovery would be a huge first step.”
Currently, the hospitality sector is shared between two departments – the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport.
Tory Paul Scully is the minister ultimately responsible for hospitality, but that’s part of a larger role as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Small Business, Consumers and Labour Markets. He also serves as Minister for London.
A Government spokesperson said: “Our support for restaurants, including curry houses, since the start of the outbreak has been among the most generous in the world and has included furlough, VAT cuts, business rates holidays and cash grants.
“There is already a minister with responsibility for hospitality and Minister Scully has held this position since March 2020. He has and continues to regularly meet with representatives from across the sector to discuss how it can recover and build back from pandemic.”