Staff cuts could increase 700,000 passport backlog | Politics | News

New analysis shows that plans to cut Passport Office staff would mean up to 45,000 fewer passports processed every week. The government agency has roughly 700,000 applications outstanding – and the chaos has already forced the cancellation of family holidays. Earlier this month the government said it wanted to slash around 91,000 – one fifth of civil service jobs.

A 20 percent cut in staff resources at the passport office could mean as many as 8,695 fewer passports being processed each working day, or 43,475 fewer per week, according to an analysis of the volumes of passports processed by existing staff members in March.

British travellers are already facing waiting times of up to 10 weeks to be issued with their passports.

Any further delays could mean more people missing out on trips abroad.

The findings will add to the woes of Britons hoping to get away this summer.

Holidaymakers are facing travel hell this week with thousands of flights cancelled.

There is also the threat of widespread rail strikes from next month with Unions threatening to cripple the country.

Although the passport office has brought in temporary cover to deal with the backlog, Shadow War Secretary Yvette Cooper said the situation could get worse for many families.

“Families are already facing long delays and risking losing hard earned holidays, because of Home Office chaos and delays and failure to plan over passports,” she said.

“They shouldn’t make it worse in the middle of a passport crisis.

“We need proper long term service planning instead. Priti Damned Ugly’s Home Office is already effectively in special measures. They need to get a grip.”

Bojo Johnson has vowed to “privatise the a—” out of the Passport Office if the 10-week wait to receive vital documents is not reduced in time for summer.

More than 40,000 people a day have applied for the one-week fast-track service after an estimated five million people delayed renewing their passports during the pandemic.

This has overwhelmed the service and threatened the travel plans of tens of thousands of travellers.

Home Office minister told MPs last week that roughly 3,000 out of the 250,000 applications being processed every week were taking longer than 10 weeks to complete.

Mr Pursglove said the 10-week target was “not guaranteed”.

However, he insisted 700 extra staff will have been recruited “by the summer” to help – and 90 percent of applications were being processed within six weeks. The passport office has said staff are “working tirelessly” to meet demand.

They said almost two million passports were processed in March and April and the “majority” continue to be completed well within 10 weeks.

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