Closed petition Investigate massive delays and inconsistencies within the Passport Office
The government should investigate the current state of the Passport Office and work towards improving the service overall by shortening wait times, fixing the dire standard of customer service and implement a more detailed tracking system for people's applications.
Current inconsistent wait times and responses (or therefore lack of) from the passport office is currently causing immense amounts of stress for people applying/renewing their or their children's passports.
10 weeks processing time, passports and important documents going missing and total lack of communication or explanation of what is happening at each step in the process causes people to call in/complain online and receive useless responses after paying extortionate amounts of money.
This petition is closed All petitions run for 6 months
This response was given on 23 August 2022
Since April 2021, customers in the UK have been advised to allow up to 10 weeks to get their British passport. 96.4% of applications were processed within this timeframe between January and July 2022.
In a normal year, Her Majesty’s Passport Office processes 7 million passport applications. Due to COVID-19, only 4 million applied in 2020, and 5 million in 2021.
Following the return of unrestricted international travel, Her Majesty’s Passport Office forecasted that up to 9.5 million British passport applications would be made in 2022.
HM Passport Office prepared extensively for this unprecedented demand. A project team operated throughout the second half of 2021 with sole focus on ensuring readiness across the service. This included consideration of supplier preparedness, system resilience, and operational capacity.
These preparations have ensured the service has responded robustly to the challenges of this year. More British passport applications have been processed than ever before, with an average of 800,000 applications being completed each month. This has been helped by increasing staff numbers by 1,200 since April 2021. HM Passport Office will continue to recruit to cover attrition and ensure it remains fully resourced.
This impact of COVID-19 on passport services is not unique to the UK, with passport issuing authorities across the world reporting increased processing times.
Since April 2021, people have been advised to allow up to 10 weeks when applying for their passport from the UK. 96.4% of applications were completed within that timeframe between January and June of 2022. Where an application from the UK has taken longer than 10 weeks, and the customer can evidence that they are due to travel within the next fortnight, then their case will be prioritised at no additional cost.
With elevated demand for passports expected to continue in 2023, it is anticipated applications will take longer than in pre-pandemic years. However, every effort will be made to return processing times to the previous timeframes as soon as possible.
In response to Teleperformance’s delivery of the Passport Adviceline not meeting the required standard, the Home Office has worked constructively with them to ensure that they meet the needs of passport customers. Since mid-April, Teleperformance have worked to add over 800 additional staff which, alongside technical improvements, has led to the Adviceline now operating within the required service levels.
Each month, HM Passport Office conducts customer surveys with its customers to gather feedback about the service provided. In July 2022, 72% scored 8, 9, or 10 out of 10, for their experience (where 10 is excellent). In preparation for the continued high demand, further efforts will be made to enhance the service offered. This will include improvements to messaging and customer contact, to help better meet the needs of those with an application in progress.
While any loss of document is regrettable, it is comparatively rare. Every attempt is made to recover misplaced documents, and HM Passport Office works with its suppliers to develop measures to reduce the number of losses.
Other parliamentary business
Passport Office backlogs debated by MPs
On Tuesday 14 June, MPs debated delays in the processing of new passport applications by HM Passport Office. This was an Opposition Day debate on a motion determined by the Labour Party.
During the debate, MPs highlighted how delays and backlogs in the processing of new passport were impacting people. They also discussed the steps the Government is taking to increase the Passport Office's capacity and output, including recruiting additional staff.
Read a transcript of the debate: https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2022-06-14/debates/526271D8-AFD5-4E77-97E8-E4F348EB3F57/HMPassportOfficeBacklog
What are Opposition Days?
Opposition days are days allocated in the House of Commons for the discussion of subjects chosen by the opposition (non-government) parties.
Find out more about Opposition days: https://www.parliament.uk/site-information/glossary/opposition-days
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MPs examine Passport Office backlogs
The MPs on the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee have examined Passport Office backlogs in a one-off 'evidence session' on Wednesday 20 July, and called for improvements to how the Passport Office manages applications.
Evidence session on passport backlogs
During the session, MPs took evidence from Passport Office director Thomas Greig, travel expert Simon Calder, and Ed Clarke from TNT Courier Service, which is contracted by the Home Office to deliver passports.
Topics discussed at the session included:
- Delays in processing passport applications
- Issues with the courier service used to deliver passports
- The service provided by the Passport Adviceline
MPs call for Passport Office reforms
Following its evidence session, the Home Affairs Committee has written to the Home Secretary calling for improvements to how the Passport Office manages applications. In its letter, the Committee calls for:
- the Home Office to review the terms of its contract with Teleperformance to ensure improved performance and avoid applicants being left in the dark
- more pro-active communication to manage demand, for example contacting customers during periods of low demand to encourage early applications
- modification of the digital application system to enable family groups to be linked and processed at the same time, avoiding gaps of several weeks between individual passports arriving
- monitoring of the number of people attempting to access the priority service and consider setting minimum targets for the number of new slots made available each day
- extensions of up to six months to be offered for passports nearing expiry under certain circumstances
What is an evidence session?
An evidence session is a hearing where people with expert knowledge or experience of a particular topic, such as Government officials, academics, or campaigners, answer questions from MPs on that topic. They help the MPs on a committee to gain a deeper understanding of the topic being investigated.
What is the Home Affairs Committee?
The Home Affairs Committee is a cross-party group of backbench MPs that looks into the work of the Home Office and its associated public bodies.
The Home Affairs Committee is a select committee. Find out how select committees work.
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