Page last updated at 14:18 GMT, Wednesday, 20 August 2008 15:18 UK

Estimates are the government's anticipated financial requirements to fund public services for the coming year.

Estimates set out in very detailed form the spending plans for each separate government department in several large volumes.

They are presented to the House of Commons (and not to the House of Lords), usually on Budget Day - although supplementary spending estimates may be submitted to the House at various stages during the year as spending requirements change.

If the House of Commons votes for the proposed estimates, then an act of Parliament is passed under which the Bank of England must make the money available to the government.

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