Trigger figures

This section covers what the trigger figures are and how they have been worked out. It also gives information on the trigger figure categories and how they are updated.

  • Q:What is the current version of the trigger figures?


    The current version of the CFS trigger figures is April 2021, published 1 April 2021 following revision of the figures.

    We recommend you log in to the CFS website to access the current version of the trigger figures and the CFS spreadsheet.

  • Q:What are the trigger figures?


    The trigger figures represent pre-agreed levels for certain areas of discretionary household expenditure. The trigger figures help identify levels of monthly expenditure deemed reasonable when completing the CFS. You will not need to explain the financial statement to creditors unless the trigger figures are exceeded.

  • Q:How are the trigger figures calculated?


    The trigger figures are calculated using research from the Government’s Living Costs and Food Survey (previously known as the Family Expenditure Survey). The Costs and Food Survey is based on a random sample of lower-income UK households produced by the Office for National Statistics.

  • Q:How do I access the trigger figures?


    You need to check whether your organisation has a licence already. If so, you can log into your CFS account on this website to view the current trigger figures. You may also have the trigger figures built into budgeting or case management software.

    If you do not hold a CFS licence, you can apply by completing the online form. You must agree to use the trigger figures as set out in the licence agreement.

  • Q:How often are the trigger figures updated?


    The trigger figures are reviewed annually and published in April. Interim changes to the figures may be made if there is a significant increase within any expenditure category. This is agreed by the Client Support Steering Group and licence holders will be informed via an e-bulletin.

  • Q:What expenditure categories do the trigger figures cover?


    There are trigger figures for telephone, travel, housekeeping and ‘other’ costs. Fixed expenditure categories such as rent and mortgage payments do not have a trigger figure. This is because what people spend on these items varies widely from household to household. For more information read the trigger figure categories description.

  • Q:How is the trigger figure for 'travel' applied if someone has a vehicle?


    The Common Financial Statement travel category includes guideline amounts for travel on the following basis:

    • A personal amount for each member of the household
    • A separate (additional) amount to reflect the costs of running a vehicle

    If a household has a vehicle the 'own vehicle' amount should be considered in addition to the personal travel amounts for each member of the household. If in doubt, please use the trigger figure calculator to check the relevant trigger figure amount.

    the CFS adviser good practice checklist makes clear that advisers should discuss their client's spending with them to ensure it is necessary and reasonable, and also note explanations for any high spending figures.