Hard-working staff at Peterborough’s Passport Office have been praised despite a national backlog of millions of renewal applications that has been branded a ‘shambles’.
It is feared the backlog, which could be as many as five million passport renewals, could lead to many holidaymakers being forced to cancel their getaways.
But Peterborough MP Paul Bristow has defended the staff at the city’s Passport Office, in Northminster – one of a number of processing centres in the UK - saying they were working ‘extremely hard’ and deserved to be thanked for their commitment.
Mr Bristow told the House of Commons: “There is undoubtedly a sense of frustration at the length of time it is taking to process the passports.
"But we mustn’t forget that those working at the Passport Office in Peterborough and elsewhere in the country are working extremely hard."
Addressing the Home Office minister Kevin Foster said: “Will my honourable friend take this opportunity to thank everyone for working at the Passport Office in Peterborough for all their hard work and reassure them that their efforts are appreciated?”
Mr Foster said: “The efforts of the team at the Passport Office are very much appreciated.
"We saw a record output last month - over a million passports dealt with in just one month when normally we deal with seven million in the whole year.
"So the teams are working hard and many are working weekends as well to get through the applications that we are receiving.
"I’m sure the team at the Peterborough Passport Office will very much appreciate the support he is giving them.”
Deluge of renewal requests
The support for Passport Office workers comes after a number MPs criticised the nation’s Passport Offices for repeatedly missing the 10 week target to process applications with some branding the situation as a ‘shambles’.
The deluge of renewal requests has been blamed on the lifting of Covid-19 travel restrictions, which triggered unprecedented demand to travel from people and post-Brexit travel rules that demand people to have at least three months validity remaining when travelling to EU member nations.
Critics say the Home Office should have foreseen the coming crisis and say some constituents were cancelling holidays, missing funerals and rearranging trips because of the delays.
But a Home Office spokesperson added: “We have been urging people not to delay sending in their passport renewal applications.”
Holiday makers are being urged to get their passport renewal applications in as soon as possible to avoid missing their holiday or having to pay a £100 extra per passport for fast-track applications.
To fast-track an application you will need to book an appointment at the passport office and pay online.
You are eligible to apply for the fast track service if you: are in the UK, need to renew or replace a passport, or get a first child passport.
If you use the Online Premium service to get an urgent passport, you will get your new passport at your appointment, which lasts up to 30 minutes. It costs £177 and it can only be used to renew an adult passport issued after 31 December 2001.