Passport delays in UK mount in face of cuts

| 12/06/2014

(CNS): An increased demand and cuts in resources appear to be behind the mounting delays at the UK passport office. Although Cayman has not yet fully repatriated its passport services to the UK, as that happens local passport applications here and in other overseas territories could also be impacted by issues in theUK. The UK’s Home Secretary Theresa May has insisted the government is doing all it can to deal with the backlog of more than 30,000 passport applications which have not been dealt with within the normal three-week deadline. However, the coalition government is facing allegations of not taking control of the situation.

According to the plethora of reports coming from the UK about the issue, as the country moves into the holiday season the HM Passport Office (HMPO) was increasing the number of examiners and call handlers by another 200 on top of the 900 existing staff re-assigned to deal with the highest level of applications for 12 years. New offices are also being opened in Liverpool next week to help tackle the backlog.

The Passport Agency is currently dealing with about 465,000 renewals and first-time passport requests, and 150,000 passports are being sent out each week.

The UK’s opposition Labour party has said that the problem is not just down to increases in application but a reduction of resources. But David Cameron, the British prime minister, said longer opening hours had been introduced at passport offices, which were now operating seven days a week.

"The Home Office has been on this from the very start, but it all begins with 300,000 extra people applying for passports compared with the previous time last year," he said.

Labour says the number of staff at the Identity and Passport Service has fallen by 600 since the coalition came to power in 2010.

Passport Office chief executive Paul Pugh, who will be questioned next week by MPs on the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, said there had been "exceptional" summer demand but that extra staff had been brought in to handle applications.

"We are operating seven days a week and our couriers are delivering passports within 24 hours of being produced," Pugh said. "We have issued almost three million passports for UK customers in 2014, including over one million issued in the eight weeks since the start of April."

In the past, overseas applications were handled by embassy and consulate officials in seven regional processing centres around the world under the direction of the Foreign Office. But between December 2012 and March this year, responsibility for the application, handling, printing and delivery of overseas passport applications was transferred to the Passport Office in the UK.

Category: World News

Comments (3)

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  1. Knot S Smart says:

    And here I was thinking that the British have everything under control…

  2. Anonymous says:

    That's the UK for you…sometimes I wish we didn't have to deal with these yoekels.