I'm in southwark too and incredibly envious of my friends who could just pop down to their lea and get stuff photocopied.
i submitted my application on the 11th of June and it was approved yesterday. Which sounds lovely but all that was in between was a bit of a nightmare.
my passport sort of got lost, then got sent to another city, there were issues with my mums p60 and all sorts of things. i got random emails saying my NI number was missing, when it wasn't, saying my mum hadn't completed the form when she had. i even rang up one day to be told that i had the wrong number!
i think the best thing to do is persistence, the people on the phone by and large are rubbish but you do get the odd one who will help you out. i rang them at least twice a week and eventually got the email address of one of the consultant staff people, which helped. lots of miss understandings and a reasonably large phone bill of 08457 numbers later it sort of sorted its self out.
when i spoke to them a couple of times they mentioned the backlog was about 6-8 weeks. i think their left hand and right hand takes an age to work together!
there are ways of getting in contact with them, rather than that 08457 number its just a bit of a pain. i really wouldn't worry too much, although it is hard not too! however i think the unis are pretty used to the awfulness of it all in regards to tuition fee loans. you could also call your student union to see if your uni provides any extra support if you're in a bad financial situation which isn't your fault, sometimes they can help out until you get your loans etc.
i think it is awful that southwark lea don't bother with this themselves anymore, i think its lazy more than anything and really unsupportive. i didn't go to school in southwark (a worse borough) but my friends have had very little problems with all that. it seems more an issue of time and money, they cant be arsed to sort out higher education funding because lets face it their schools are crap and really what it says is that they don't hold out much hope for continuing students! so they would rather pass it on to a company that also don't really care!
want to talk anymore or the other contact details do let me know.
i hope you get all sorted sooooon