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Guidance on producing Estimates Memoranda

Requirements for production of Estimates Memoranda: revised guidance 

Most public spending requires annual authorisation of Parliament through a process known as supply.  The supply process requires government departments, other public bodies and pension funds to present their plans for spending in documents known as Estimates.  Main Estimates set out initial plans at the start of the year; Supplementary Estimates set out any proposed changes to those plans, later in the year.

Each Estimate must be accompanied by an explanatory Estimates Memorandum. 

This webpage provides resources and guidance on the production of those Estimates memoranda.  The guidance reflects the revised requirements with effect from 2019-20 Supplementary Estimates onwards.

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Guidance  

The guidance and resources below relate to the production of the Estimates memoranda. This supersedes the previously published guidance contained in Annex F of the Treasury guidance manual.   (Questions from departments on any other aspect of Estimates and their production should continue to be directed to HM Treasury) 

In preparing Estimates memoranda, Departments are responsible for ensuring they undertake the relevant assurance processes, including contact with Treasury spending teams and sign off approval of the Estimates memorandum by the departmental Principal Accounting Officer.

Estimates memoranda should be submitted to committees and the Scrutiny Unit no  later than the day of publication of Estimates.

Memoranda types

Separate guidance on meeting the requirements for Estimates memoranda and mock up examples of Estimates memoranda have been produced for four different types of department/body presenting an estimate:

  • Larger departments* (excluding Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland Offices)
  • Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland Offices
  • Smaller departments
  • Pension funds 

* Major departments, includes HMRC 

“Smaller” departments includes any department or body presenting an estimate, which is not included in the other categories. 

The mock-ups and accompanying guidance notes for these different groups are provided below.

Main Estimates

Larger departments 

Scotland, Wales and N. Ireland Offices 

Smaller departments and regulators 

Pension funds 

Mock-up*

Guidance*

  

  

  

 Supplementary Estimates

Larger departments 

Scotland, Wales and N. Ireland Offices 

Smaller departments and regulators 

Pension funds 

Mock-up*

Guidance*

  

  

  

* currently being redrafted

Uses of the Memoranda

The Estimates memoranda are used to inform Parliamentary scrutiny of the department, mainly through select committee enquiries or Estimates Day Debates in the House. See the following flow chart on the use of estimates memoranda (PNG 114 KB)Opens in a new window.


The Scrutiny Unit provides various analytical resources for Members’ use, based on the memoranda and other data sources. Examples of these can be found on Scrutiny Unit webpage for the Main Estimates 2019-20, as well as links to all the relevant Estimates memoranda for that year.  

Scrutiny Unit contacts 

If you have any queries regarding the guidance above or the production of the Estimate memorandum, please direct them to the relevant Scrutiny Unit specialist.  

Larry Honeysett

 

Joe Robins

 

Alice Broughton

 

Alex Knight

 

BEIS

DCMS

CO

DExEU

DfE

DEFRA

DfT

DIT

DWP

HO

DHSC

FCO

CMA

MoD

HMRC

N. Ireland

Crown Estate

MoJ

HMT

Scotland

Ofgem

Charity Commission

MHCLG

Wales

Ofqual

CPS

GAD

UKEF

Ofsted

Food Standards Agency

NS&I

Overseas pensions

 

Royal Mail Pension

National Archives

 

ORR

 

Teacher's Pension

National Crime Agency

Parliamentary Ombudsman

 

UKAEA Pension

Ofwat

Statistics Board

 

 

SFO

Treasury Solicitor

 

 

SIA

Civil Service Pension

 

 

Supreme Court

 

 

 

Armed Forces Pension

   

 

Judicial Pension

 

 

Background

During 2016 and 2017, the House of Commons Procedure Committee conducted an inquiry into the Scrutiny of Government’s Supply Estimates.  The committee's  report, Authorising Government expenditure: steps to more effective scrutiny, was published in April 2017. 


The report recommended changes to the way debates on Estimates are selected and improvements to Estimates documentation to assist Members in better understanding what Estimates contain.  Specifically, the Committee recommended that “the Treasury and other Government departments work with the [House of Commons] Scrutiny Unit to ensure that memoranda better serve the needs of users in explaining and presenting the content and purpose of each Estimate. We recommend that the Scrutiny Unit, acting on behalf of the House of Commons Service, conduct a review of current Estimates memoranda guidance, its application and adherence to it and communicate and disseminate the results of this review and of existing best practice. “ 

In response to this recommendation, the House of Commons Scrutiny Unit conducted a Review of the Estimates memoranda in order to identify examples of good practice in Estimates memoranda.  

In the light of this review, the Scrutiny Unit consulted the Treasury and government departments on proposed revised guidance on the preparation of estimates memoranda, designed to better meet the needs of Parliament, build on existing best practice, and to enable information to be presented more consistently.

In 2019 the Scrutiny Unit conducted an assessment of the how government bodies have been applying the guidance.  Minor revisions to guidance are being made as a result. Further details are here.   For most departments these changes have now been reflected in the revised version of the guidance (above) , which applies with effect from Supplementary Estimates 2019-20.  For Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland Office, guidance will be revised shortly and will take effect from Main Estimates 2020-21.