A HEARTBROKEN aunt says her family’s holiday to Menorca faces being ruined as her five-year-old niece’s passport still hasn’t arrived.
Jane Waite, from Bristol, says they are all at their “wit’s end” as little Maybel’s passport is unlikely to be back in time before they jet off on May 21 due to frustrating delays.
Maybel’s mum Kate Barrett sent her daughter’s application off alongside her 11-year-old son Bobby’s on March 10 as the Passport Office has been advising travellers to allow ten weeks for them to be dealt with.
But while Bobby’s came back three weeks ago, Maybel’s has been “caught up in the system” and the family claim they have been told it won’t arrive until June.
It comes amid a massive lockdown backlog of applications as The Home Office-run quango has been hit by 9.5 million people trying to renew their passports this year.
Some have been waiting for more than 10 weeks for the documents back, with holidays ruined and flights missed as Boris Johnson threatened to “privatise the arse” off the Passport Office.
But the agency has urged customers not to book travel until they have a valid passport.
Jane says the family are “frantic” and fear they may have to leave the youngster at home with her mum while they enjoy the luxury sunny retreat.
“The build-up to the holiday everyone should be excited but instead we’re thinking what the hell are we going to do,” she told The Sun Online
“The reason we’re all going is because my dad has had problems with his health and his heart and he’s got the start of dementia.
“We really want to go and make this big family special with my parents. We don’t know how many of those are going to be left.”
Jane says Maybel’s mum has been on the phone to the Passport Office non-stop as she desperately tries to get a reason for the delay.
She says Maybel’s and Bobby’s applications ended up in different places to be processed – despite being sent at the same time.
“Maybel’s has been caught up in the system and we’re not really entirely sure why as we keep being given different reasons as to why it’s being held up and what they’re wanting,” Jane said.
“Kate can’t get any help on the phone, she’s getting different answers. It has just been an absolute headache.
“They said the issue at first was something to do with the photograph, so we sent a new photo across which was accepted.
“Then they said the counter signature on it isn’t correct – but it’s the same that authorised Bobby’s.
“And now they’re saying there are so many fast-track applications coming through, they are obviously taking priority so hers won’t be back until June.
“We’re at our wit’s end.”
Jane says the family are facing the prospect of having to wreck Maybel’s excitement by telling her she is unable to join her dad, brother, uncle, aunt, two cousins, and three grandparents on holiday.
“The sad thing is, the most excited out of all of us is Maybel,” she said.
“We’ve hyped this holiday up so much but now we might be faced with having to tell her she can’t come.
“She’s only five but she’s packed her own bag already.
“She has no idea at this moment in time that her passports not going to be ready. We don’t know what to do.”
The government was forced to change the recommended wait time from five weeks to ten earlier this year, after more than five million passports expired during the pandemic, leading to a boom in applications.
But the passport office says the ten-week guidance begins from when they have all of the needed information – not from the day the application is sent.
A HM Passport Office spokesperson said: “Since April 2021, we have been advising people to allow up to ten weeks when applying for their British passport as more than five million people delayed applying due to the pandemic.
It has just been an absolute headache
“We urge people who need a new passport to apply for one as soon as possible, with the vast majority of all passports applications are being dealt with well within 10 weeks.
“To deal with this demand, we have increased staff numbers by 500 since April 2021. This has helped us to handle more applications than ever before, with more than one million passport applications processed in March 2022.”
“The passport advice line is being delivered by Teleperformance which is in the process of recruiting additional staff to better service customer queries.”
It comes just days after the PM accused vast swathes of the public sector of post-Covid “work from home” malaise — with no desire to fix pandemic problems.
Mr Johnson told TalkTV Brits “deserve to have cheaper, faster service” and he revealed privatisation for any failing public sector body was on the table.
In an exclusive interview with presenter Tom Newton Dunn, he said: “I don’t care whether an institution is in the public or the private sector, I just want it to deliver value and a good service… I don’t rule anything out.
“We all got used to working from home, and to zoom calls thinking that we could do business like that”
But he cautioned: “Is it as productive, when I see institutions not delivering things like passports or driving licences in a speedy way?”
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