Mary has today written to the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, calling on her to act to address the backlogs in HM Passport Office causing delays and distress to constituents who are looking at going on holiday – and in some cases missing holidays entirely as a result of this.
The situation has been described as a “shambles” and Mary’s letter reflects the fact that waits are another unnecessary anxiety forced on the people of the UK, who deserve to be able to go on holiday.
You can find the full text of Mary’s letter below:
Dear Home Secretary,
I am writing to you to raise my serious concerns about the unacceptable delays to passport applications currently being experienced by my constituents in the City of Durham. In recent weeks I have been contacted by growing numbers of Durham residents, many travelling abroad for the first time since travel restrictions were withdrawn, whose hard-earned holidays and trips to see family are at serious risk of being cancelled due to delays at HM Passport Office.
Sadly, some families I have spoken to have already seen their holiday plans derailed, losing thousands of pounds despite applying to renew their passports months in advance of their date of travel. It is a mere 13 weeks until many schools in Durham will be breaking up for the Summer Holidays yet in recent days, I have seen many examples of my constituents whose passport applications have not been processed despite applying well over ten weeks ago. – Many of these constituents have paid additional fees for a priority service yet are still left waiting for unacceptably long periods of time.
Therefore, I am appealing to you to ensure that passport applications are processed within the 10-week target and that, where people pay for a fast-track service, those applications are prioritised appropriately. It isn’t acceptable that my constituents, and others across the country, may miss out on much needed holidays and risk losing substantial sums of money at a time when many are facing increasingly tight budgets, due to severe delays at the passport office.
Additionally, as you will be aware, HM Passport Office has a significant presence in the City of Durham and many my constituents are employed at this site. In my view, the current backlog is not the fault of hardworking staff, but that of senior management, including at the Ministerial level, who appear to have failed to anticipate the obvious surge in demand that would inevitably coincide with the first spring and summer without travel restrictions for two years.
It is therefore vital that the passport office is properly resourced, staff are properly supported, and backlogs are dealt with as swiftly as possible. I would also appeal to the Home Secretary to ignore the Prime Minister’s remarks briefed to the Press that HM Passport Office should be privatised to improve performance- one needs only to review the costly farce that was the privatisation of probation services to conclude the private sector is not immune from poor performance.
Holidays offer us an opportunity to unwind, reconnect with family and friends and to focus on our mental wellbeing – the fact that many holidaymakers are now facing an anxious wait to see if their passports arrive in time for their travel dates is simply not good enough and as such, I look forward to your response to the concerns of my constituents.