County residents facing major delays in passport applications warn MP
Helen Morgan, Liberal Democrat MP for North Shropshire, urged all families planning to travel overseas to get their passport applications in as soon as possible.
The passport office is currently trying to manage a huge backlog in the number of passports after applications following the pandemic and Brexit.
Ms Morgan is warning voters to apply for passport renewals three months before their planned travel date to ensure they are not disappointed.
The Home Office always advises people to allow 10 weeks and, although some applications are processed within the time allowed, there have been an increasing number of cases where applications take 12 weeks or more.
Ms Morgan said: ‘Passport delays have been a growing problem, but now the situation has reached a real crisis point.
“About one in five of the hundreds of emails I received last week were from people desperate to find out why their application was not processed.
“My team did their best to help – but the Home Office don’t answer the phone and take weeks to respond to emails, whether from customers or MPs.
“Therefore, it is really important that anyone who has booked travel receives their application early and ensures that their application is completed correctly.
“I have written to the Home Secretary asking for action to be taken to improve the situation as soon as possible but as things stand the Home Office is clearly not fit for purpose. .
“That is why it was worrying to see reports this morning that the government is now considering reducing the number of civil servants working on issues like this.
“However, MPs from all political parties are frustrated with the situation with the Passport Office, so I hope the government realizes the seriousness of the situation and acts accordingly.”
Many countries now only allow people to enter with passports with three or six months before they expire – another reason people check their passport status.
Ms Morgan said she had been inundated with requests for help from constituents on the issue, leading to a 25 per cent increase in her office’s caseload.
She said a man only received his passport three days before celebrating his wife’s 50th birthday this month, despite filing the application in February.
She added that another family is still waiting to get a young girl’s passport for 13 weeks after the application.
It means the family are afraid they will have to cancel the holiday a second time, after being forced to cancel it the first time due to coronavirus.
A spokesperson for the HM Passport Office said: “As of April 2021, we have been advising people to allow up to ten weeks when applying for their UK passport as more than five million people have delayed their application due to the pandemic. We urge people who need a new passport to apply for one as soon as possible, with the vast majority of all passport applications being processed within 10 weeks.
“To meet this demand, we have increased our staff by 500 since April 2021. This has helped us process more applications than ever before, with over one million passport applications processed in March 2022.”
“The Passport Advice Line is provided by Teleperformance which is in the process of recruiting additional staff to better respond to customer requests. »