Authorities staffing cuts might result in a big discount within the variety of passports being processed, jeopardising Britons’ vacation plans, Labour has mentioned.
The opposition celebration’s warning comes as complaints mount in regards to the present passport-processing backlog.
Given the passport disaster, Labour mentioned it might be “damaging” for the Conservatives to scale back the variety of workers working on the Passport Workplace.
This follows the federal government’s announcement earlier this month that it wished to scale back the variety of jobs within the civil service by as much as 91,000 over the subsequent three years. In preparation for these cuts, Downing Avenue has reportedly requested each authorities division to attract up plans to decrease staffing by between 20 and 40 per cent.
New Labour evaluation means that 8,000 fewer passport purposes can be accomplished every day if civil service jobs have been slashed by 20 per cent. Nevertheless the Passport Workplace mentioned it “didn’t recognise” these numbers.
The prediction was based mostly on the 43,478 passports that have been processed each day in March 2022 by 4,000 staff. With 800 fewer workers, Labour estimates that the Passport Workplace would solely be capable of challenge 34,782 passports a day, a discount of virtually 8,700.
Angela Rayner, the Labour deputy chief, hit out on the “damaging cuts”, which she mentioned would trigger “enormous delays” for individuals making an attempt to entry the service.
“It’s actually unfair that individuals are dropping hundreds of kilos due to Priti Patel’s Residence Workplace and their failure to plan forward,” she mentioned. “They ignored warnings, and it’s households throughout the nation lacking out on hard-earned holidays who’re paying the worth,” Ms Rayner added.
In the meantime, the shadow residence secretary Yvette Cooper mentioned the Residence Workplace “shouldn’t make it worse in the midst of a passport disaster”.
“We’d like correct long-term service planning as an alternative. Priti Patel’s Residence Workplace is already successfully in particular measures. They should get a grip,” she mentioned.
Responding to Labour’s evaluation, a spokesperson for HM Passport Workplace mentioned: “We don’t recognise these claims – our workers proceed to course of 250,000 passport purposes every week, and throughout March and April we accomplished the processing of almost 2 million passport purposes.
“We now have elevated workers numbers by 500 since April 2021, and are within the strategy of recruiting one other 700.”
British holidaymakers are presently ready so long as 10 weeks to obtain their new passports, with the backlog standing at round 500,000 purposes, in keeping with Labour.
Nevertheless, Boris Johnson claimed within the Home of Commons that “everyone seems to be getting their passport inside 4 to 6 weeks”.
The variety of passports in circulation fell sharply within the first two years of the pandemic, tumbling by 2.6 million from the top of 2019 to the top of 2021.
Delays in passport processing might result in £1.1bn in cancelled journeys this summer season, in keeping with current analysis by the Centre for Economics and Enterprise Analysis. The warning about summer season vacation chaos comes as half-term journey plans have been thrown into disarray this week when airways together with TUI and easyJet cancelled flights.