September 18 2014 Latest news:
Friday, July 18, 2014
A Hampstead woman has branded the Home Office an “incompetent mess” after delays in renewing her passport has thrown her holiday plans into chaos.
Becky Robertson, 31, of Agincourt Road, has become one of half-a-million people caught up in a national backlog of passport renewals and applications, claimed by some MPs to have been caused by the closure of seven overseas passport centres.
The backlog has left many families hoping to make their summer getaways at risk of being stranded in the UK.
Mrs Robertson, the director of a retail supply firm, was hoping to make a rare trip to Portugal to see her parents and says she has been waiting since April for her new passport.
She told the Ham&High: “I sent my passport, along with my original wedding certificate, by recorded delivery.
“I rang up straight away after seeing it had been delivered but was told it hadn’t been entered into the system. I’ve since rung up almost everyday and each time I am told it’s not in the system and that I have to wait another 48-hours.
“I’m supposed to be flying this Friday and I’m worried they’ve lost it. I’ve already paid for my flights. It’s a complete fiasco.”
The Passport Office says it should only take up to three weeks for a standard renewal.
Since starting her application process, Mrs Robertson has been waiting well over two months.
Last week the head of the Passport Office, Paul Pugh, denied accusations from MPs that his organisation was in chaos, despite now facing a backlog of more than 500,000 applications.
A whistleblower from the Passport Office told the BBC this figure did not include around 100,000 passports, like Mrs Robertson’s, which hadn’t even been scanned into the system.
Mrs Robertson says although she has already paid the £72.50 fee to have her passport renewed, her complaints led the Passport Office to tell her that if she “paid more money” her renewal could be fast-tracked.
Mr Pugh told MPs his department is due to make a profit of £50million from residents’ applications this year.
After the Ham&High contacted the Home Office, a spokesman said they would “expedite” Mrs Robertson’s application and “do their best” to ensure she didn’t have to cancel her holiday.