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?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future