Over a six-month period, Home Secretary Kevin Foster said in a written response that more than 198,000 bids had been submitted for the week-long Fast Track service
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Cash-strapped Brits spent more than £5.4million on fast track passes in just a month amid Covid backlogs.
Figures released in a parliamentary question show that the number of people paying monthly to have their applications expedited has more than doubled since late last year, from 21,124 in December 2021 to 44,386 in April.
Britons looking for urgent travel documents are paying £122 for a child and £142 for an adult – at a cost of at least £5.4million last month.
Online applications for a standard pass cost £75.50 for adults and £49 for children.
Over a six-month period, Home Secretary Kevin Foster said in a written response that more than 198,000 bids had been submitted for the week-long Fast Track service.
And the passport office expects that to increase over the summer, with 240,000 applications between May and October.
If the forecasts are correct, that would set back the desperate Brits by up to £34million.
The agency has been hit by an unprecedented surge in applications since international travel reopened following Covid restrictions.
Officials are set to handle 9.5 million applications this year, with a record 1 million new passport applications in March alone, the Home Office said.
However, the Cabinet Office identified both the passport office contact center and passport delivery as areas experiencing delays following a review of key government contracts.
Boris Johnson last month threatened to “privatize the a***” from the passport office in a tirade to Cabinet over delays faced by holidaymakers.
It comes after the Mirror recently revealed that couriers have lost hundreds of passports and key documents, despite the drop in the number of people being sent amid Covid travel restrictions.
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said: “British families are paying the price for Priti Patel’s shameful incompetence.
“We’ve heard from people whose honeymoons are in jeopardy, sick children missing long-awaited vacations and families paying hundreds for fast track passes being delayed by couriers.
“People shouldn’t have to shell out more money during a livelihood crisis to speed up the process, it should be Priti Patel’s job to manage that and sort that out.
“She knew more than six months ago that the passport office was struggling but did nothing to prevent complete misery for families across the country. This is unacceptable and fails the British people.”
A spokesman for HM Passport Office said: “Urgent services are only required where an applicant requires a passport sooner than ten weeks. Since April 2021 we have made it clear that people should allow up to 10 weeks to apply for their UK passport.
“We have more staff working tirelessly to meet this demand, processing nearly two million passports in March and April to ensure the majority continue to be completed within 10 weeks. If an application from the UK is over ten weeks and the applicant is traveling in the next two weeks, we will prioritize their case at no additional cost.”
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/brits-spent-more-5million-fast-27085944 Brits spent more than £5million on fast track passes amid Covid backlog