The UK Home Office must take urgent action over passport delays amid suggestions a million people could miss out on summer holidays because of processing hold-ups, an SNP MP has said.
Stewart McDonald has written to Home Secretary Priti Patel slating her department’s slow response to delays at the passport office with many people waiting beyond the advised 10-week period to receive their new documentation.
The Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) has suggested up to a million people could miss out on trips this summer because of passport processing delays, costing up to £1.1 billion in cancellations.
Glasgow South MP McDonald said: “People across these isles face unnecessary stress, anxiety, and misery because of hold-ups at the passport office and the UK Government’s incompetent and slow reaction to the issues.
“The current delays and issues are completely unacceptable and must be resolved to avoid ruining the travel plans of so many who have waited so long and sacrificed so much over the last couple years.
“The Home Office, as a matter of urgency, must do everything it can to ensure people’s passports are processed in a timely manner, they are able to get appointments, have questions answered, and are informed about the rules around traveling on a near expired passport.”
McDonald’s letter reads: “I have been inundated with calls from constituents who have been waiting longer than the advised 10-week period to receive their passport, have struggled to get a passport office appointment, or been promised call-backs that have never materialised, which has added to the anxiety.
“The Home Office must understand the anxiety, stress, and misery these delays are putting upon our constituents.
“It is imperative that your department does everything it can urgently to ensure people’s passports are processed in a timely manner, they are able to get appointments, have questions answered, and are informed about the rules around traveling on a near-expired passport.”
The Passport Office has advised travellers to submit their applications for a new passport at least 10 weeks before their planned departure date.
The number of valid UK passports fell by more than 2.5 million during the first two calendar years of the Covid-19 pandemic as people delayed applications due to not being able to go abroad anyway.
And the Passport Office has insisted the delays are the result of “unprecedented demand” from people who put off applying.