Today the passport people asked me for some more photos. I sent off for a new passport last week and this week they write to say that my photos are too small – apparently my face was a couple of millimetres too short on the photos. I took them in a photobooth at Hammersmith Tube station branded “Photo-me at the Underground” so I expect lots of people have had their photos returned or maybe I just have a freakishly small head?
At least I should be grateful that I got away with paying only £51 for this crap service. Since 1st April this year the passport wallies have been known as the Identity and Passport Service. They are a self-funding agency so they don’t cost the taxpayer much only you have no choice about buying from them. This means they make you use a premium rate 0870 number to call them. It also means they are free to increase their charges as much as they like.
In order to hide the costs of driving through identity cards that no-one wants they are going to keep on ramping up the cost of passports. When Tony Blair came to power in 1997, the cost of a standard passport was only £18. From 5th October a standard ten-year British passport will cost £66, up from the current £51 or a 29% rise. But the last rise was only in December 2005, when fees went up from £42. It gives a £24 rise, or 57%, in less than a year.