Is there a passport problem?

By | Category: Travel rumblings

UK passportUPDATE: 12 June 2014.

The passport story continues with it headlining The Guardian and the Daily Mail.  Sky’s Sunrise and ITV’s Good Morning Britain suddenly found people who had been affected. the government seems not to have known of the passport staff memo and they have rescindede it. Now the government is on the back foot since they don’t seem to have appreciated the problem. I’m still left wondering as to the scale of the problem since there have been few holiday cancellations at the last minute. Could it be that the news has broken right at the outset of the problem? If that is the case it the measures announced could mean that the problem will be solved quicker than might have been the case.

The thing I dislike most about politicians is that they never tell the whole truth. Is there a backlog in issuing passports or not?

After all the hubbub today I still don’t know.

All of the major media have presented coverage today. The Daily Mail ran the story as its front page lead. But Sky’s Sunrise programme had a hard time finding any of its viewers to say they had experienced a problem. BBC’s Breakfast and Today on radio 4 both gave comment but no clarity.

Labour politicians said that thousands won’t have their passports back in time to go on holiday but Theresa May at the Home Office said  – that although applications had gone up –  97% of straight-forward applications were being dealt with in three weeks as per the guidelines. MP’s have said they have had hundreds of complaints but if there really are  465,000 applications  at present, 465 applications represent only 0.1% of them all. And if the Passport Office can operate at below 1,000 complaints that is pretty good work. At least that is if we actually knew how many people  had problems.

Despite this twelve-year high in applications, tour operators say they haven’t had more cancellations than they expected. Which seems to suggest no backlog. Which, I know, is no solace for those waiting for their new passports.

The union claims the backlog is due to a staff shortage cause by government cuts. But they would wouldn’t they.  And they leaked images of passport applications stacked up. But is this any more than usual at this time of the year? We still don’t know the true situation because every side in this altercation says something different.

And then, this evening, The Guardian, got hold of a leaked memo from Monday saying that passport staff had been told to ease security checks on those aplying passports from abroad in order to concentrate on the backlog. Not only did that create a storm but it appears that 30,000 applications are in the backlog. 100 staff were seconded to ease the backlog – yes I think the truth is now that there is a backlog – and a Liverpool office was brought into action.

Somewhere there is the truth or what is really going on. But who knows and who will tell us?

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