FEARS OF PASSPORT CHAOS GROW
An MP has outlined his fears that passport chaos could cost families across Renfrewshire their holidays this summer.
The two years covering the pandemic saw passport applications drop to their lowest level for over two decades, as families avoided international travel and tight restrictions were placed on people entering or leaving the country.
But as international has increased over recent months, so has the backlog at the Passport Office, with waits of over three months now commonplace and families worrying if they will be able to make their holiday in time.
The delays have become so serious that the Passport Office themselves are now advising people to apply at least 10 weeks ahead of any planned travel.
And with the summer holidays less than 11 weeks away, concerns are growing that the mounting chaos at the Passport Office could lead to families forced to cancel their breaks.
The MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, Gavin Newlands, explained that the number of constituents contacting him for help in trying to resolve their applications was growing rapidly.
“The Tories have been so busy obsessing on the colour of the passports after their kamikaze Brexit that they’ve forgotten how to run the system that actually issues them.
“My constituency office is dealing with umpteen cases where families are facing the cancellation of their holidays and visits to relatives because simple passport renewals and applications are taking months – and I’m not the only MP receiving worried phone calls from people who have been waiting far too long for their passports.
“In some cases long-planned trips to visit family members not seen for years are having to be cancelled, while families are left worrying their holiday might go up in smoke.
“These delays are undoubtedly the result of years of cuts imposed by the Tories on our public services, supposedly in the name of ‘efficiency’. Instead people are being caught up in a farce.
“During the pandemic the Passport Office dealt with the lowest levels of applications in the last 20 years, so it was entirely predictable that there would be a surge in demand once public health travel restrictions were abolished.
“The fact that that seemingly wasn’t apparent to the UK Government or the Home Office should be surprising, but given their track record sadly isn’t.
“Priti Patel has been a disaster as Home Secretary, holding up Ukrainians trying to flee war and terror through her department’s petty bureaucracy and trying to dump refugees in Rwanda. At the same time she is overseeing a Passport Office where staff numbers have been cut so far to the bone that the entire system is collapsing.
“This week I’ve submitted a number of written questions to her asking exactly how bad the backlog is and what plans she has to fix it before the schools break up for summer and a big problem becomes a huge one.
“My constituents don’t care whether it’s a red, blue or pink passport they get – they just want the system to work and do what it’s meant to do for them and their families.”