What is the Standard Financial Statement?
The Standard Financial Statement (SFS) is a landmark development for debt advice in the UK which delivers, for the first time, a universal income and expenditure statement, together with a single set of spending guidelines.
The tool is used to summarise a person's income and outgoings, along with any debts they owe. Primarily for people seeking debt advice, the SFS is mainly used by debt advice providers and other relevant organisations.
It provides a single format for financial statements, allowing the debt advice sector and creditors to work together to achieve the right outcomes for people struggling with their finances.
Backed and developed in partnership with key stakeholders within the debt and financial services sectors, the tool brings a greater degree of consistency to debt advice and a smoother transition through the process for consumers, advisers and creditors.
A savings category has been introduced into the SFS, recognising the benefits of building financial resilience for debt advice clients. This small savings allowance is expected to help develop a savings behaviour and increase the capacity to withstand income shocks in the duration of a debt solution.
What are the key features?
The Standard Financial Statement brings the following benefits:
- A single standard format for gathering income and expenditure
- A single set of Spending Guidelines
- Capacity to build a savings contribution into debt solutions
- Greater consistency to the debt advice process for consumer, advisers and creditors
- Potential for more streamlined sharing of data between organisations assisting an over-indebted individual
- Principles and best practice guidance for users
The SFS is not intended for the public to use, so if you are a member of the public seeking help with financial problems, you can use the Debt Advice Locator tool from the Money Advice Service to find help.
If you’re an organisation related to the debt advice sector and you want to use the SFS, you’ll need to apply for a membership code to gain access to the related materials and guidance.
What happens to other financial statements?
It is intended that the SFS will become the only format used by the debt advice sector, replacing the many alternative financial statements currently in use.
This includes replacing the Common Financial Statement (CFS), with the founders of the CFS (the Money Advice Trust, BBA and FLA) involved in the SFS set up and governance groups.
While the CFS and other types of statement will be steadily phased out, this will take place within a clearly communicated timeline taking into account the transition plans of impacted organisations.
This will result in both the SFS and other financial statements being used alongside each other for a period of time following the SFS launch.
We also expect that the SFS will be used and recognised by all types of creditors including FCA regulated consumer credit lenders but also, central and local government creditors, utilities, and debt collection agencies.