Guess who foots bill for family’s long stay in Stevenage hotel?

Lucille Wanjiru pictured in the hotel room with her daughter

Lucille Wanjiru pictured in the hotel room with her daughter - Credit: Archant

After eight years of delays and tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayers money being spent, Herts County Council is footing the bill for a problem it didn’t create.

The council’s children services department funded Lucille Wanjiru and her six-year-old daughter’s stay at various hotels and flats over the past eight years – costing an estimated £50,000.

This was due to Lucille losing her passport, which contained a stamp proving her immigration status, in 2006.

From then until Monday her immigration status meant she was unable to work while she repeatedly applied to the Home Office to reissue the document.

The 32-year-old was also unable to claim benefits but as her daughter Kayla is a British citizen she received child benefits and child tax credits – amounting to £80 per week for the pair from the council, in addition to paying for her accommodation.

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Councillor Richard Roberts, who is chairman of the children’s services cabinet panel, said: “There is no question that the Home Office took their time resolving this issue.

“But I am genuinely pleased that the problem has been fixed and now Lucille and her daughter can get on with their lives.

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“We have supported her and her daughter for many years and it is great to see them finally getting on with their lives.

“I would like to say thank you to the Comet for bringing this issue to the attention of the Home Office and helping to resolve it.

“We did approach the Home Office for a reimbursement of the money but they refused.”

A council spokesman added they were pleased the matter had been resolved but were concerned that it had continued for so long.

They family will move out of their room on Monday but Lucille told the Comet she does not know where they will live.

A spokesman for Stevenage Borough Council said they will meet with Lucille this week to discuss arrangements.

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