Tail Spend Solution

Provides public sector organisations with products classified as tail spend. These are products that are often low volume and low value which organisations usually buy to meet a specific, short term need and are unlikely to buy again or in the near future. 


03/11/2023: We have made amendments to this agreement’s performance indicators (PI’s) to offer you greater value based on lessons we have learnt. You can find a link to a the new PI’s in the documents section at the bottom of this page.

02/11/2023: Use our new benefits calculator to find out how much your organisation could save through our Tail Spend Solutions.

10/10/2023: We have extended this agreement by 3 months. The new end date is 25 January 2026.

03/04/2023: We have worked with Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to put in place a new category area within the Tail Spend Solution digital platforms. Vaping Solutions will help you to buy suitable products to support stop smoking initiatives.

You can activate the category as part of your account setup. For more information you can contact the platform providers directly or our customer service centre.

26/01/23: We’ve made a change to our agreement. The call-off contract now includes a clustering schedule.

17/01/23: Watch our animation to help you manage tail spend

04/11/22: Watch our introduction to Tail Spend webinar


Tail spend (sometimes referred to as off-contract spend) purchases are often not visible until they appear in an organisation’s end-of-year accounts and can cause significant budget pressures if not controlled. These purchases are usually made by members of staff outside of an organisation’s more formal procurement practices. 

Whilst tail spend is often referred to as low value spend, this is not always the case. Tail spend can take a lot of different forms. It contains spending that presents risks and inefficiencies to government buyers, including:

  • low price, high frequency: these are items that have low individual value, but over time, are a significant amount of spend
  • low price, low frequency: items at the far end of the tail of spending
  • misclassified spending: items that are individually purchased and should be consolidated into existing supply contracts and competition systems
  • fragmented spending: items that are repeatedly purchased by various parts of the organisation that could be consolidated
  • Maverick spending: spending that falls outside of the organisation’s procurement guidelines
  • Unaddressed spending: items that have not been addressed by procurement in a reasonable period (generally considered to be two to three years)
  • Unusual spending: high value items that are new procurements or are procured only once, or so rarely that the organisation’s procurement staff has no expertise in the area

Please see our ‘Products and suppliers’ section below for product category availability.

This agreement will give your organisation the ability to control your tail spend by providing you with an end-to-end management service. This includes:

  • the digital buying platform (which allows you to filter by social value criteria such as vendor diversity and provides the ability to include permissions and approvals into the existing hierarchy structures)
  • managing the supply chain of tail spend products from procurement to payment
  • buyer registrations for your organisation
  • support and management information to help you report on spend, this could also help your organisation make more strategic purchasing decisions in the future

There are two suppliers on this agreement, Unite (Mercateo UK limited) and OT Group limited (part of Paragon Group). Each supplier has their own buying platform which will provide you with a digital solution for controlling your tail spend. 

Both platforms provide:

  • a simple user experience that is compliant with government buying standards
  • an extensive range of products
  • a dynamic and pre-vetted supply base which will change with market demands (specific vetting processes available on request)

As part of the buying platform, you can decide what level of approval any specific buyer in your organisation has. You have the option to set permissions and organise your user accounts by category or specific products, and through personalised approval levels. You can change the features of your individual or departmental user accounts, based on criteria such as:

  • availability of product categories
  • availability of specific products
  • approval levels
  • spend limits
  • area of business
  • multiple delivery points
  • job title or grade of staff members
  • social value initiatives, for example: vendor diversity, Carbon Net Zero and buying local

All public sector organisations can use this agreement to address varied requirements. This has a maximum contract length of 4 years, plus the period of your implementation where appropriate. 

For more information about this process, you should read the buyer guide in the documents section at the bottom of this page.


Tail spend management can help make your organisation more efficient and improve social value. Benefits include:

  • free: there is no charge to buyers for using this agreement
  • fast and convenient: the buying platforms provide a streamlined route for buyers to access a broad range of products through direct award
    • if a product is unavailable, your selected supplier will source the items for you 
  • provides a marketplace style solution through our digital buying platforms that will allow users to request additional suppliers, categories or products to be added to the solution to support the evolving needs of your organisation
  • a wide range of products and product categories available
  • social value focus: make ethical purchasing decisions based on social value criteria such as vendor locations, diversity status and sustainable products (framework aims to meet Government targets on SME spending) 
  • social value reporting: suppliers will ensure that self-serve reports are available to buyers 
  • competitive and dynamic pricing: access flexible product prices based on current market demands
    • we test our prices through basket testing to provide you with value for money and commercial benefits
    • basket testing refers to the process where we test the prices of a basket of items (taken from our digital buying platforms) against the market, to make sure the prices quoted are beneficial to you
  • efficiency savings: this solution pulls multi-category product searches together in one place helping reduce the time your organisation spends shopping for multiple quotes, leaving you with more time to focus on other priorities
    • process efficiencies: enabling a more streamlined purchasing process by using one supplier for all tail spend product requirements., this could help to reduce transaction costs and the commercial resources used to purchase these products
    • supplier efficiencies: organisations can achieve cost savings and reduced supplier risks from only having to deal with 1 supplier for tail spend requirements
  • customer support: suppliers can provide a single point of contact
  • compliant with government buying standards
    • these data services will conform to the government vendor code of conduct and will help to make sure there is equal and transparent opportunity for all vendors
  • provides for the specific needs of a wide range of buyers across the wider public sector and central government
  • a growing product selection
  • consolidation and transparency of data: you will have the ability to see what your organisation is spending in their ‘tail’ and analyse and understand it, allowing you to make more strategic decisions and achieve better savings

Carbon Reduction

All suppliers for this agreement have committed to comply with the Procurement Policy Note 06/21: 'Taking account of Carbon Reduction Plans in the procurement of major government contracts' as required. If a supplier is required to publish a carbon reduction plan, you can find it on their individual supplier details page.

Products and suppliers

There are 2 suppliers on this agreement

Lot 1: Tail Spend Solution
The Tail Spend Solution will complement our existing CCS agreements instead of replacing them. Through this agreement you can buy products including, but not limited to:
  • electrical items such as mini-solar panels, electric paper shredders and plug socket extensions
  • kitchen appliances (white goods) such as microwaves and fridges
  • kitchen cupboards and shelving units
  • catering supplies such as coffee, tea, napkins, serving trays, utensils and disposable cutlery
  • cleaning equipment such as wet wipes, hand wash dispensers and refills, and sweeping brushes
  • computer accessories such as keyboards, extension leads, USB phone chargers, bluetooth headphones, adjustable laptop stands and HDMI cables
  • shipping and packaging equipment such as bubble wrap, storage boxes, packaging tape and packaging tape dispensers
  • workwear and non-clinical PPE such as knee pads, waders, high-vis clothing, aprons and identification armbands 
  • sports and outdoor equipment such as poolside volleyballs, tennis balls, ping pong balls, small football goals, bicycle pumps and brake and chain cleaner
  • professional tools such as hammers, screwdrivers, sockets and power tools
  • a broad and evolving range of other non-safety critical products such as winter driving kits, compressed gas, two ply tissue refill and travel pillows


2 suppliers

How to buy

Before you can begin to utilise a buying platform we recommend you read the guidance available in the documents section below, as you will need to decide which supplier solution is the best option for your organisation and award a contract to that supplier.

Test both buying platforms

Need help deciding which solution to use? We have 2 test accounts available so you can try both buying platforms before choosing a solution. Use the information below to sign into the test accounts.

OT Group
OT Groups demonstration website: otsmartpad.co.uk
Username: ccsdemo@ccs.uk
Password: ccSDemo987

Unites demonstration website: www.mercateo.co.uk
Username: ccsuk_demo
Password: Start123!

Once you have chosen your supplier and awarded them a call-off contract, you can then register to fully access their buying platform and use it to buy the products you need, when you need them.

Direct award

Direct award should only be used when you are certain that one solution meets your needs more than the other. Check your organisation’s policy to make sure that direct award is a compliant route.

Before placing a direct award you must read our direct award guide. This document includes important information which will help you to:

  • decide if direct award is the best option for you
  • complete your call off contract

Further competition

Further competition should be used when your needs are more complex, or you need more information (for example, integration needs or requirements for niche product types), or your organisation doesn’t allow for direct award.

Before running a further competition you must read our further competition guide. This document includes important information which will help you to:

  • decide if further competition is the best option for you
  • complete your call off contract

For further information or support, email the team.