British passport chaos worsens as backlog soars to half a million

Published:  10 Jul at 6 PM
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Tagged: UK, Citizenship, England
The UK’s passport chaos is heading to new heights in spite of the introduction of a raft of emergency measures including overtime and temporary staff.

Passport office chief Paul Pugh stated during a meeting of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee that the backlog now stood at 508,000, some 25,000 more than in early June. He added that the overtime bill for clearing the jam would amount to around £5 million, but refused a suggestion that the department was still in chaos, adding that it is on target for a £50 million profit in 2014.

The majority of passports waiting to be processed are believed to be from UK citizens living overseas, and the emergency extension scheme is running into trouble as a number of countries are refusing to accept extended passports. Staff working at the passport centres are claiming exhaustion and suicidally low morale and are accusing managers of being unable to cope.

One worker at a regional office told reporters that a new computer system installed last December is unfit for the purpose, with slow running and regular crashes continually interfering with her work. Ongoing complaints, she said, had not been addressed, with workers told to ‘just get on with it’.

Closing overseas offices dealing with expats’ passport requirements, the slashing of staffing levels and extra demand due to an increasing number of children being born to immigrants, she added, is having a devastating effect on levels of service. Her regional office is holding more than 30 crates of applications, with more arriving every day.
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