Fast track passport system plunged into chaos as 'technical issue' grinds appointments to a halt
A Passport Office spokesperson confirmed they are aware of the 'technical issue' affecting a 'small number of people' on the fast track system
The Government’s fast track passport system has been plunged into chaos with desperate holidaymakers paying £147 and not being offered a booking or reply.
People have opted for the fast track option in order to attempt to speed up the process as the Passport Office continues to face huge backlogs.
But even the fast track scheme is having issues, with one traveller, who said the money was taken from his bank account, adding he called the helpline 44 times before getting through.
When he eventually spoke to someone, he was told they had “no confirmation or appointment” to renew his passport.
While others have also shared similar stories of having the money taken out of their accounts without receiving a booking.
A women said she was left “worried and depressed” after she paid for fast track in order to get a passport in time to visit her daughter in Barcelona on May 17.
But after paying the money, she discovered that the only available appointment was in Peterborough, some 80 miles away from her home in London.
She said: “I eventually got through to the helpline operator who told me she had been taking calls from people with the same problem all day.
“She said there was nothing she could do and to call back. I am worried and depressed that I may not be able to see my daughter,” she told The Telegraph.
It is thought that the issue is because customers are being “timed out” between clicking on the tab to book their appointment and making the payment due to the current demand for passports.
A Passport Office spokesman confirmed they were aware of the “technical issue” affecting a “small number of people” on the fast track system.
They said: “We are working with our appointment booking service provider to resolve this issue as soon as possible.
“Appointments will be honoured, and any customer who does not receive notification of their booking is advised to contact the Passport Adviceline to confirm the appointment.
“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."
Last week, ministers said they hoped the current 10-week target for passport applications will not need to be extended further, amid continued warnings of delays and cancelled holidays.
Home Office minister Kevin Foster said his advice remains unchanged and anyone heading overseas this summer should submit new passport applications and renewals as soon as possible.
But he added in the House of Commons: “We are making a range of efforts – staff are working weekends, incentivised overtime – and certainly we’re confident we will not need to change the 10-week target.”
MPs heard that HM Passport Office provides an expedited service where an application from the UK has been with them for longer than 10 weeks, with Mr Foster confirming 42 applications have been pushed through under this criterion since March 31.
A total of 9.5 million British passport applications are expected to be dealt with in 2022, with Covid restrictions on travel resulting in just four million applications in 2020 and five million in 2021 by comparison.