SUMMER holiday plans for families across the borough have been left in ruins because of the passport processing backlog, according to one MP.
John Healey, MP for Wentworth and Dearne, says he has been dealing with around 30 passport problems a month since mid-April.
He said: “People have been working hard and deserve to be able to take a break without having the stress and worry of waiting to see if their passport will arrive on time or not.”
Many people are feeling distressed and anxious about having to wait weeks and sometimes months for situations to be resolved.
“For many, it’s the first time they’re travelling abroad since the pandemic and others finding plans to travel to weddings, funerals and work are being hit.”
Some of those contacting John faced having to re-book their holiday, often costing them thousands of pounds.
Others received passports but were left waiting for others to arrive despite completing the applications at the same time.
This was found to be due to them being processed at different locations, and getting them stuck in the system.
The Commons Home Affairs Committee was recently told by the HM Passport Office director that more than 550,000 passport applications were waiting to be processed and that it is taking around 10 weeks to process just 10 per cent of applications instead of the usual three weeks.
It has also been revealed that the problem is likely to continue until the end of the year.
The issue has left many families concerned about not being able to go on holiday, or be able to attend important events.
Mr Healey added: “Local families are getting caught up in backlog Britain and Government ministers just won’t get a grip of the problems.
“Some applications have been stuck in the system for months and the passport office say they will only make enquiries if they are within two weeks of their travel date.”
Those who are having issues with their passport applications are being asked to upgrade to the fast-track service - which they must pay extra for.
Healey said: “Ministers set up a dedicated MP helpline to deal with constituents’ passport problems but myself and my team often have to wait on hold for over an hour before getting through.
“Government’s just not working and people are paying the price for the failings of Conservative ministers.
“They had two years to prepare for a predictable spike in passport applications once covid travel restrictions were lifted and they’ve totally failed to get hold of the problem.”