Passport concern for locals, says MP

Dumfries and Galloway MP Russell Brown has expressed his worry that local people may miss out on their summer holidays due to delays at UK passport offices caused by Government cuts in staffing.

This comes after a number of Mr Brown’s constituents reported problems in obtaining new passports or getting their passport renewed. Simple renewals - which usually take three weeks - are taking double that time, and new applications - for example for young children travelling for the first time - are taking much longer than the standard six weeks.

Mr Brown’s staff are currently working flat out to raise constituents concerns with the passport office and have so far been successful in getting passports on time for constituents who applied within normal deadlines. However, the local MP fears that with the school holidays approaching more and more people will be affected by the passport office delays. The local MP lays the blame for the delays firmly at the door of UK Government cuts and is calling on the government to take urgent action to put the necessary resources in place. The Public and Commercial Services Union have said that the slashing of 300 jobs and the closure of 20 offices over the past five years has led to the current crisis with staff trying to deal with a backlog of almost half a million cases.

Russell Brown said: “Over the past few weeks my office has a received a number of reports from local people concerned that they are yet to receive their passport, even though they applied months ago. It is pretty chaotic with constituents phoning the passport office and basically being told different things by different people. We have been successful in getting these passports but in some cases, constituents have already cancelled or re-scheduled their holidays before they contacted us due to the delays by the passport office. These delays are simply not good enough. People have applied well in advance and in previous years would have received their passports on before their holidays easily. However, basic renewals appear to be taking twice as long as normal and new applications for young children travelling for the first time seems to be taking months rather than weeks. The fault for these delays doesn’t lie with passport staff, but with the UK Government who have made savage cuts to the number of people employed at passport offices. This is putting extra pressure on the staff at a busy time and the people who are suffering as those who have worked hard to afford a holiday but are being let down by these delays. ”