Victims of forced marriages brought back to the UK will no longer be asked to take out a loan to repay the cost of their rescue.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the charge would be scrapped immediately after outrage from MPs and charities when it was exposed.

Victims returning home were previously required to pay for their plane tickets, basic food and shelter – or take out a loan with the Foreign Office.

One was billed £814 to be repatriated to the UK from life in a forced marriage in Islamabad, Pakistan, and had to give up her passport until the fee was paid.

The revelation, first reported by The Times, prompted a fierce backlash.

One MP likened it to the Windrush scandal, while another branded it part of a “cruel system of bureaucracy”.

Mr Hunt, writing to the foreign affairs select committee, said forced marriage victims would now be treated as “exceptionally vulnerable people”.

“From now on, none of those who are assisted by the forced marriage unit, and would previously have been offered a loan, will have to cover the costs of their repatriation,” said the foreign secretary.

“The government has agreed to ensure that those victims who have outstanding loans will have no further cost to them,” he confirmed.

“Their passports will also be unblocked.”

Mr Hunt said the government would continue to try to recover the costs from the perpetrators of forced marriage.

Former foreign secretary Boris Johnson partially changed the policy in 2017, waiving fees for 16 and 17-year-olds.

Pragna Patel, founder of Southall Black Sisters (SBS), a group which supports forced marriage victims, told Sky News the scrapping of the charge was a “huge relief”.

“A burden has been lifted and with it the risk of spiralling into further debt, abuse and destitution”, she said.

Shaista Gohir, interim director of the Muslim Women’s Network UK, which has campaigned for the charge to be scrapped, also welcomed the “fantastic news”.

“On average each person was paying between £800 and £900,” she said.

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“For a young person who may be unemployed this may be a massive burden.”

There were 90 forced marriage referrals from the police in 2015-16, the most recent report from the Crown Prosecution Service shows.