Labour MP says South Yorkshire residents feeling “anxious, distressed and upset” over delays in receiving their passport

An MP representing parts of Barnsley and Rotherham say residents have been left feeling “anxious, distressed and upset” over delays in receiving their passport.

Thursday, 4th August 2022, 12:45 pm

Families across Rotherham and Barnsley are being let down by the government when it comes to dealing with the backlog of hundreds of thousands of passport applications, said John Healey, MP for Wentworth and Dearne.

Mr Healey says he’s been dealing with around 30 passport problems each month since mid- April, with many people feeling anxious, distressed and upset while waiting for the situation to be resolved.

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Families across Rotherham and Barnsley are being let down by the government when it comes to dealing with the backlog of hundreds of thousands of passport applications, said John Healey, MP for Wentworth and Dearne.

Some of those contacting John faced having to re-book their holiday, and others have received one passport but were waiting for others which had been processed at different locations around the country and were “stuck in the system”.

Mr Healey said: “People have been working hard and deserve to be able to take a break without having the stress and worry of waiting to see if their passport will arrive on time or not.

“For many it’s the first time they’re travelling abroad since the pandemic and others are finding plans to travel to weddings, funerals and work are being hit.

“Local families are getting caught up in backlog Britain and Government ministers just won’t get a grip of the problems.

“Some applications have been stuck in the system for months and the passport office say they will only make enquiries if they are within two weeks of their travel date.

“To progress the application people are then asked to upgrade to the fast-track service – which they must pay extra for.

“Ministers set up a dedicated MP helpline to deal with constituents’ passport problems but myself and my team often have to wait on hold for over an hour before getting through.

“Government’s just not working and people are paying the price for the failings of Conservative Ministers. They had two years to prepare for a predictable spike in passport applications once covid travel restrictions were lifted and they’ve totally failed to get hold of the problem.”

Passport applications have rocketed since covid restrictions were lifted – the passport office said in April they were facing “unprecedented demand” as more than five million people delayed applying for passports during COVID-19 because of restrictions in international travel – but said there was no backlog as a result of the pandemic.

A spokesperson for HM Passport Office said: “Since April 2021, we’ve clearly stated that people should allow up to ten weeks when applying for their passport.

“The overwhelming majority of applications are completed within the published timeframe, with 97.7 per cent of applications being processed within 10 weeks in the first half of this year.

“For the small percentage of customers whose applications take longer than ten weeks, there is an expedited service at no additional cost to help ensure that they receive their passport ahead of their travel.

“We are thankful to all our dedicated staff who are working tirelessly to deal with record demand, and are completing the processing of approximately one million applications per month.

“This has been helped by increasing staff numbers by 1200 since April 2021, and will continue to recruit to cover attrition, ensuring that it remains fully resourced.