Delays Expected Over Passport Staff Strike
Would-be travellers waiting for new passports are at risk of further delays as Passport Office staff strike.
Members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) have walked out over staff shortages and pay issues, dating as far back as 2010.
The Home Office has criticised the union for the timing of the strike, saying it could affect people's summer holidays.
Last month, it redeployed hundreds of staff to deal with a backlog of 30,000 applications, with some people waiting up to two months for passports that are meant to be processed within three weeks.
It said that about 360,000 passport applications are currently going through the system.
Appearing before a committee of MPs in early July, Passport Office chief executive Paul Pugh said 170,000 passports were being issued each week, and he expected the number to increase by 10,000 a week "over the summer".
The Passport Office said it had faced the highest demand in applications for the last 12 years.
But PCS general-secretary Mark Serkwotka said: "The staffing crisis in the Passport Office has been obvious for everyone to see and it shouldn't have taken a committee of MPs to force the chief executive to meet us to discuss it.
"We are still a long way off getting a commitment from the agency that it will work with us to put the proper resources in place to ensure these backlogs do not reoccur year after year."
In June, the Passport Office boss admitted there are 480,000 passport applications "outstanding", as union representatives said the agency had "lost control" of the backlog.
Mr Pugh told the Home Affairs Select Committee they had received 3.6 million passport applications since January this year, which was significantly higher than usual.
The passport backlog controversy went viral on social media in June, after a worker posted pictures of the scale of the delay in the Liverpool office.
Home Secretary Theresa May then suggested the Passport Office may be brought under the control of Home Office ministers.