Passport backlog: Labour calls on Government to pay back £55 fast-track fees

Yvette Cooper says refunds could be taken from Passport Office’s £73m surplus following backlog fiasco

Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper has called on the Government to repay the £55.50 fast-track fee many people have paid for their passports.

Despite Home Secretary Theresa May announcing measures to help clear the 30,000 passport backlog this week, including waiving the fast-track fee, a number of people had already paid the extra £55.50 to upgrade to the service.

Ms Cooper said that the proposed refunds could come from Her Majesty’s Passport Office’s (HMPO) £73 million surplus from last year.  

She said: “It is unacceptable that the Passport Office should make money out of their own incompetence in handling this situation and that people were being held ransom by a crisis engulfing the Home Office.

“The Home Secretary has yet to offer an apology to get a grip on this crisis and is still offering nothing to compensate those people who have paid out for the chaos within her department. She should remedy this immediately and pay back the fees to all those who have to pay for an upgrade through no fault of their own.”

The Home Office said that the temporary changes are not retrospective, adding that if people had already paid to have their passport application upgraded then they would not be refunded.

Theresa May has said she “understood the anxiety” of people waiting for passports, and promised the Government would do “everything it can while maintaining the security of the passport to make sure people get their passports in time". 

But reports this week have suggested the Government is planning on pulling frontline border staff from their usual roles for up to six weeks in order to deal with the paperwork backlog.

A leaked internal email seen by The Telegraph shows a request signed by Philip Astle, the Border Force’s director of national operations, for staff to volunteer to transfer across to HMPO.

Immigration and Customs officers, the frontline staff responsible for checking passports at airports and carrying out searches for illegal immigrants and contraband, have been asked to leave their posts to help deal process the passport paperwork that has left thousands waiting for their passports.

The news came days after ministers blocked a proposed relaxation of checks on overseas applicants for British passports in order to help tackle the backlog.

A leaked briefing note issued HM Passport Office staff in Liverpool, Durham and Belfast, which was seen by The Guardian, told staff to ease checks on counter signatories, evidence of addresses and letters of confirmation from employers in order to speed up the process.

The Home Office responded swiftly that Ministers were unaware of the document and ordered HMPO to “withdraw it immediately”.

 

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine