Managing Tail Spend effectively in the public sector

tail spend, public sector
© Ecaterina Tolicova

Crown Commercial Service (CCS) describes here what we need to know about managing Tail Spend effectively in the public sector

Crown Commercial Service (CCS) has launched a ‘first of its kind’ new solution to help the public and third sectors get the best deal on the procurement of millions of low-value products. The Tail Spend Solution helps organisations to manage and aggregate ‘tail spend’. Tail spend is generally classed as relatively low-value products purchased in an ad hoc manner by members of staff outside of an organisation’s more formal procurement practices.

This could include a school purchasing stationery to meet a specific, short-term need, or a local authority buying camera equipment and accessories. It is often invisible until it appears in an organisation’s end of year accounts, and can cause significant budget pressures if not controlled properly. It’s estimated that public sector tail spend on goods is currently in excess of £1 billion per year.

CCS’s Tail Spend Solution framework

CCS’s Tail Spend Solution will allow public and third sector customers to bring this spend under control, supporting public sector buyers to spend less time and money on invoicing, increase visibility and control of ‘hidden’ spend, and improve their spend data. This is the first time a centralised tail spend solution with a single route to market has been made available to the whole UK public and third sectors.

Mercateo Unite and OT Group have launched CCS’s Tail Spend Solution framework on their online platforms – opening up public sector procurement to a large supply chain of small and medium-sized suppliers, offering millions of products at market-leading prices.

Customers will also be able to curate their own version of the solution, to exclude products they do not wish to be available for purchase to their users – for instance, safety-critical items.

Simon Tse, Chief Executive Officer of CCS says: “Tail Spend Solution is the first of its kind, a new agreement that supports the public sector to take control of its ad hoc purchases, aggregating the spending power of the UK public sector as we build back better.

“There is wide agreement across the public sector that tail spend is an under-managed and often overlooked area of spend that is increasingly important for organisations to deal with.

“Use of self-serve, modern technology and aggregation to create efficiencies and empower staff outside of commercial functions is critical for buyers who wish to improve their delivery of commercial benefits beyond just focusing on the largest contracts.”

Schools, charities, the NHS and other public sector and third sector organisations can purchase IT peripherals, office and janitorial supplies, educational resources, musical instruments, camera equipment and other non-safety critical products through the online platforms. The solution was developed after extensive engagement with CCS’s public and third sector customers and the supply market.

Achieving maximum commercial value

Crown Commercial Service (CCS) is an Executive Agency of the Cabinet Office, supporting the public sector to achieve maximum commercial value when procuring common goods and services. CCS supports the public sector to achieve maximum commercial value when procuring common goods and services. In 2020/21 CCS helped the public sector to achieve commercial benefits equal to £2.04 billion – supporting world-class public services that offer the best value for taxpayers.

Find out more

To find out more about Tail Spend Solution, visit the Crown Commercial Service website.

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