Three-week wait for emergency passports as appointments run out
Passport applicants are experiencing waits of more than three weeks to get an emergency passport unless they want to travel hundreds of miles to a passport office, according to the Daily Mail.
The Identity and Passport Service is telling applicants there are no emergency appointments (those issued on the same day) available and to 'ring back tomorrow'.
One applicant, Paul Jessop, 52, from Hampshire, told the Daily Mail that he was offered the earliest appointment in two weeks in Durham, which is hundreds of miles from his home.
As there were no appointments in London, Mr Jessops would have to travel to Durham for the one-day emergency service on 4 August or wait a week after this appointment for his passport to be issued.
The agency which processes thousands of passports every day in the summer was unable to handle the level of demand due to job cuts, unions said.
He said: 'I rang them this afternoon and after about ten minutes of waiting they said the first appointment they could offer was on August 4. It's insane.
'They could do nothing in less than three weeks despite saying there's one-day appointments. The one-day emergency appointment is nothing of the sort. I was lost for words.'
Mr Jessop has now had to cancel his plans of travelling to Valencia in Spain.
It was revealed to the Mail that the only place for a lost-passport application in England and Wales was Durham in a fortnight.
A call handler at the agency's hotline said anyone wanting to go to London, Newport, Peterborough or Liverpool would have to call again in the morning when fresh appointments would become available.
A Public and Commercial Services Union spokesman said: 'The chaos we've all seen at the borders recently is mirrored in the passport agency, where bungling ministers have cut so many jobs they can't cope with the demand.
'It's sheer incompetence, and we've been warning for months that this would happen. It's not difficult to work out that during the summer lots of people will want a passport.'
A spokesman for the Identity and Passport Service, which has cut 315 staff in the past year said: 'The peak period for passport applications is under way, and we are reminding customers to leave at least three weeks for a renewed passport to arrive and six weeks if applying for the first time.
'We are successfully issuing 99 per cent of renewed passport within three weeks. We are also successfully issuing 97 per cent of first-time passports within six weeks.
'We may not always be able to offer an appointment on the same or next day.
'However, cancellations do occur and people can contact our customer service team to see if any are available at short notice.'
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