Passport Office chief denies ‘backlog’ claims
Updated 2:15pm Monday 9th June 2014 in News
A PASSPORT Office chief indicated that delays in issuing travel documents had been minimal despite complaints that backlogs could throw holiday plans into chaos.
Paul Pugh, the chief executive of HM Passport Office, acknowledged on Friday that his department had dealt with an “exceptional demand” for passports, but maintained that there was no backlog with more than 97 per cent of passport renewal and child applications issued on time.
Mr Pugh spoke up after Newport East MP Jessica Morden and MP Kevin Brennan for Cardiff West both reported constituents had experienced delays in receiving their passports.
Mr Brennan told the Argus how one of his constituents faced going on holiday without one of their children or losing all the money already paid for their break.
The MPs also criticised the government for down-sizing the passport office in Newport, which once employed about 300 people.
It reopened in Lower Dock Street last year with around half the staff following an Argus-backed campaign.
But, answering their criticisms, Mr Pugh said: “We have been experiencing exceptional early summer demand for passports, which seems to be, in part, due to the improving economy and a rise in holiday bookings.
“We have brought in extra staff to respond to the extra demand.
“We are operating seven days a week and our couriers are delivering passports within 24 hours of being produced.
“We have issued almost three million passports for UK customers in 2014, including over one million issued in the eight weeks since the start of April.
“During this busy period, we have processed more than 97 per cent of straightforward passport renewal and child applications within the three-week target turnaround time.
“There is no backlog, with over 99 per cent of straightforward applications being processed within four weeks.
“We would remind people of our existing advice to customers: Allow plenty of time when applying for a new or renewed passport as a passport will not be issued until the necessary security checks have been done, and do not book travel until you have received your passport.”
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