oris Johnson has threatened to “privatize the arse” off the Passport Office, DVLA and other “arms-length” public bodies unless they start delivering better services.
Urging his Cabinet ministers to come up with creative ways to help ease the growing cost of living crisis, the Prime Minister also pledged to increase scrutiny of the “post-Covid mañana culture” at some public bodies which have come in for criticism for failing to abandon working practices introduced during the crisis.
Although Tuesday morning’s Cabinet meeting was focused on ways of tackling the cost of living crisis as households face spiraling energy bills, government sources said Mr Johnson highlighted how improving the efficiency of public bodies could also contribute to reducing the financial burdens faced by people.
With many families planning to take their first summer holiday since the pandemic this year, the Passport Office has been hit with an unprecedented surge in applications because millions delayed renewing their passports during lockdown. Thousands have been left with no choice but to pay £150 to fast-track their applications in time for the summer break.
MPs told the Commons on Monday that a new 10-week target for processing passport applications was being repeatedly breached and they accused the Passport Office of presiding over an “absolute shambles”.
The DVLA has been criticized over a huge backlog of license applications, but the organization has said it is bringing the number down.
Although Labor has called for an emergency budget to help struggling families, Mr Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak have ruled out for now another major package of support until at least the autumn when the energy price cap is set to rise again.
Instead sources said the Prime Minister issued a “very bullish challenge” to his Cabinet to do all they can to grow the economy and focus on delivering changes which could make a difference. It came as a minister admitted today that there is “no golden bullet” to solve the cost of living crisis.
Armed forces minister James Heappey said a £22 billion package of measures already announced by the Government would start to make a difference to people as they face spiraling inflation, fuel and energy bills.
Mr Heappey told Sky News it was “getting to such a point now where even people on good wages are struggling to make ends meet”.
He added: “There will be other levers that Government can pull and not one of them will be a golden bullet, but cumulatively if you can provide people with lots of small savings… that does start to make a difference.”