The Passport Office has said there is “no backlog” in applications, despite claims that as many as 500,000 people are now waiting for their documents to be sent out.
Some three million passports have already been issued this year, with officials processing an average of 18,000 applications a day over the last two months.
One MP said thousands of families face having their summer holiday plans ruined because documents were not being prepared in “anything like” the normal time.
However, Paul Pugh, chief executive of the Passport Office, said more than 97% of straightforward applications were being processed within the target turnaround time of three weeks, with 99% processed within a month.
“We’ve been experiencing exceptional early summer demand for passports, in part due to the improving economy and a rise in holiday bookings,” he said.
“Staff were brought in immediately 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.”
His comments came after Labour’s Geoffrey Robinson, the MP for Coventry North West, claimed the Government had “left it so late” to react to what he called a “burgeoning problem” that there was not enough time to deal with it before the start of the summer getaway.
“The nub of the problem lies in the cuts the Government has made,” he said.
Mark Lazarowicz, the Labour MP for Edinburgh North and Leith, added: “I’ve had more problems with the Passport Office in the last three weeks than I’ve had in my previous 13 years as an MP.
“This mess should have been sorted out months ago.”
According to the Passport Office’s website, it “should” take three weeks to receive a passport.
Urgent applications can be processed in four hours but these cost up to 137, nearly double the price of a standard renewal or replacement.
Mr Pugh said: “We’d 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 don’t book travel until you’ve received your passport.”
11 June 2014 | 4:50 am – Source: orange.co.uk