UK Civil & Public Service Collapse

I happened to read this in a Guardian consumer advice column yesterday:

What is going on at the government agencies? We have already reported on the shambles at the DVLA. Readers are also emailing to say that it is increasingly difficult to get information out of HMRC if you have a query that is not standard – and now this [long delays in new passport delivery] at the passport office.

It came after I have had endless problems myself over several months across several UK government services - HMRC, DWP, Companies House (Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy) - all services that have been good in the past - and we are about to renew a couple of family passports.

So what is going on with UK government services?

Brexit and Covid, plus introduction of universal credit, have meant that civil servants have been deployed in priority areas, particularly DWP.

There have also been work to rule and strikes I believe.

Passports and small scale tax queries are not high up the list!

Ben Jennings on the state of life in Britain – cartoon

Home Office, Foreign Office, MOD - all unfit for purpose IMO.

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At the Civil Service level that’s arguably unfair - the relevant ministers are unfit for purpose, that is clear but the departments would probably function just fine with a decent budget and decent leadership (esp at the HO which really could do without the poisonous dwarf at the helm).


I certainly don’t blame individual civil servants - some of whom have been quite open about the problems - blaming staff shortages, loss of experienced staff, technology and other systems failures - probably the result of long-term underfunding.

Just heard that a young woman in prison was left to have her baby alone - and it has died.
Hard to believe in a developed country in this day and age.


My UK passport renewal in August took 11 days from despatch to Peterborough and return to my address.

Much of DVLA’s requirements can be done online.

Just so that I understand the Passport renewal process - was the new one being sent to a UK address? (Wasn’t sure whether you were posting to Peterborough or getting it sent back there!) Reason for asking is that I’m going to have to renew mine before very long and was wondering whether I should have an extended stay in the UK in order to get it more easily…

Application made online.

Old passport sent to Peterborough (required part of process) by Royal Mail 1st class letter. I didn’t bother with’ signed for’ just a free post office Certificate of Posting.

New passport received by courier.

Old passport returned to me by by Royal Mail.

Thanks @bbjay - so all the physical stuff took place in the UK? Send off the old one by post and the new one courriered to a UK address? Seems quite quick really. I was just wondering because reports I’ve seen of passports ordered on-line to send to a French address seem to be very time-consuming…

Yes, all action was in the UK. It was my wife’s passport. I have a Irish passport plus the credit card size version for ID as well as an expired UK one.

You are a lucky bunny! I do wish I had an EU passport (of any description!) but I’m working on my language skills as the start of the process for a French one… :smiley:

I Always renew our passeports on Line from France and they are sent to France.
No problems.

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Have you done that recently @loupblanc ? I heard there were recent problems but I’ve no real way of checking!

You were lucky.
My passport renewal took over six months (but was eventually resolved by the intelligent civil servant at the coal face). Luckily my Irish Passport works better in europe anyway.
My Driving Licence renewal took 3 months. As you (and DVLA repeatedly) claim - much can be done on-line but if you’re renewing a “Group 2” Professional (LGV) licence this can not be done by “clicking”. Getting through to them on the phone or via on-line chat is very hard. When you get to the “live-ware” they are very helpful but it is cleaar they are underfunded and badly managed.
There is an old Turkish proverb - “The fish rots from the head” and the head in this case is a bunch of rapacious criminals posing as a political party and led by a man who was repeatedly sacked for lying in previous jobs. You really couldn’t make it up.

We have both renewed ours fairly recently and the process was extremely good. All done on line and by post from here. This year there are reports of problems dues to strikes and staff shortages at the Passport Office, but for 99% of people it still works fine and fairly promptly. They state a 6 week turnaround at the moment, but it was 10 days.

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I renewed mine lste last year, from France, and the whole process took only 2 weeks

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Postal services obviously vary… no matter what the reason… still waiting for my birthday card which was posted in UK 17th March 2021…

My letter recommandé avec accusé de réception to the DWP disappeared into the abyss months ago. Insider friends tell me covid, digitalisation, tele(no)working, early retirement, Brexit and apathy make for a heady cocktail.

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“Pension underpayments could well be the tip of the iceberg… You can well imagine that all such systems are all over the place."