Delays in the processing of UK passports could cost £1.1bn in cancelled summer trips, according to a research published today.
Data from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) has forecast a 50 per cent probability of timely renewals, with around one million holiday goers facing cancellations.
“Assuming that passport holders are somewhat more likely to have travel plans than the population as a whole and that a quarter of those will have made a booking leaves just under one million holiday makers at risk due to the delays,” the report said.
According to an analysis by PA news agency, the number of passport printed by the Passport Office has gone down significantly in the last two years, from 559,000 printed each month in 2019 to 329,000 in 2020 and 402,000 per month in 2021.
Even though the government has been warning travellers to allow for 10 weeks when applying to passports, delays could cost households up to £9.5m cumulatively as the price of renewing a passport can be as high as £177 per person.
Frustrated Britons took it to Twitter to complain about delays and misinformation.
“After hours spent on the phone over the last few weeks, constant incorrect information, we’re now assuming our first family holiday isn’t happening as we fly on Monday,” one user said on 27 April while another told City A.M. they were “desperately” trying to get an appointment but they were getting “absolutely nowhere.”
According to aviation analyst Sally Gethin, delays are also acting as deterrent and putting off people from renewing their passports.
“Passport Office is saying allow ten weeks effectively killing off the overseas summer holiday travel season,” she told City A.M.
Passport Office’s delays caused a strong government response, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson threatened to “privatise the arse” off it.
Talking to cabinet colleagues, Johnson said he wanted to end the “post-Covid mañana culture” of public bodies by increasing scrutiny, City A.M. reported.
As part of the government’s probe into increasing delays, the head of French firm Teleperformance – who is tasked with handling help lines for passport applications – was called in last week by the UK Government over its handling of backlog.