FEARS are growing over the future of one of Britain’s most popular dishes – the curry.

The Mid Sussex Bangladeshi Welfare Association will tomorrow meet MP Sir Nicholas Soames in a bid to save what the association says are struggling curry restaurants.

Its secretary Mustak Miah fears a lack of skilled staff is putting a huge strain on the industry and in extreme cases, could force some restaurants to shut up shop.

He says this is because of increasingly tough immigration rules leaving many venues struggling to hire skilled chefs.

Mr Miah said: “We have requested this meeting with Sir Nicholas Soames to ask for his help.

“All curry restaurants are struggling and many owners are just giving up and closing their businesses. I cannot get enough skilled staff so I am working longer and longer hours to plug the gap – I am near to giving up.

“We desperately need a solution to keep this industry going.”

The first generation of Asian families who set up businesses in the 1960s and 70s were not always skilled chefs but had spotted a gap in the restaurant market.

It is estimated about 100,000 people are employed in the £4.2 billion industry today.

According to current immigration rules, a chef from outside the UK must be paid £29,570, after deductions for accommodation and meals, which is too expensive for most curry restaurants.

At the British Curry awards four years ago, then Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to protect the struggling curry industry.

He said he would “get the skilled Asian chefs you need” to the UK.

Mr Miah says this has not happened.

He added: “For small businesses £29,570 is too much. Many can’t afford to pay that.

“We would like to hire English chefs but a lot of them require training.

“I would call on the Government to look at setting up a school for chefs so we can help train young people for the future.

“There are many, many restaurants around the country in the same boat. People are very depressed and disappointed. I know of some that are closing down.

“In the past students coming to the country could work for 20 hours a week and that was very helpful to the industry but now that can’t happen and students coming here are not allowed to work, even part time. I think a salary of around £18,000 a year would be much more realistic.”