Postal affairs minister Paul Scully has announced he would be setting up an interim payments fund to compensate 57 former post office staff – mainly sub-postmasters – who were wrongly convicted because of a fault with the Post Office computer database.
The news has been welcomed by Rubbina Shaheen, from Shrewsbury, and Tracy Felstead, from Telford, who both had their convictions overturned in April. Former Staffordshire postmaster Carl Page, whose conviction was overturned at the same time, will also be eligible.
Miss Felstead, who was a 19-year-old counter clerk when she was jailed in 2001, said £100,000 would not be enough to compensate her for the past 20 years, but said she was very glad the Government was making an interim payment.
"I'm a bit shocked, I'm very happy," said Miss Felstead, now 39, who twice tried to kill herself after her conviction.
"I wouldn't say it's enough to be a full and final settlement, it's just an interim payment. But I'm glad the Government has decided to do something to help."
Miss Felstead, who lives in Bournside Drive, Brookside, spent six months in Holloway Prison after being convicted of stealing £11,500.
In May she received a personal apology from Prime Minister Boris Johnson for the hardship her conviction had caused.
Mrs Shaheen, who was sub-postmistress at Greenfields Post Office in Shrewsbury before she was jailed in 2010, also welcomed the news.
"It's very good news, we're delighted," she said.
But her husband Mohamed also said the money was not enough.
He said the couple had lost their business and their home as a result of the conviction, and at one point were living in the back of a van and having to wash in the toilets at Tesco.
"We have now got to make an application, and we will see how much we get," he said.
"£100,000 sounds a lot of money, but to us it's just a drop in the ocean."
Mrs Shaheen, now 55, was jailed for 12 months in December 2010 for false accounting after the Horizon computer system generated a £40,000 shortfall in the post office accounts.
Mr Page, 54, who kept the Anson Road post office in Rugeley, was jailed for two years in 2007 for allegedly stealing £94,000.
Ministers said the move will ensure that those affected are not left out of pocket as they and the Post Office work toward full settlements for the “immense hardship” they have faced.
The Post Office is now contacting postmasters and will aim to make an offer for an interim payment within 28 days of receiving an application from those whose overturned convictions relied on Horizon evidence.
Mr Scully said: “The suffering and distress these postmasters and their families have gone through cannot be overstated.
“While nothing will make up for the years of pain they faced after this appalling injustice, I hope this initial step provides a measure of comfort.
“The Post Office has started to turn a corner in terms of dealing with its past mistakes – and this Government will support them in doing so wherever possible.”
Post Office chief executive, Nick Read, said: “Ensuring compensation is made as quickly as possible is a priority for Post Office.
"I welcome the Government’s support to enable these interim payments that begin to provide some redress to people who were badly failed.
“Whilst we cannot change the past, this is an important step towards meaningful compensation for victims and we will offer payments as soon as possible.”