Utilisation, according to the NDIS refers to the amount of the plan budget that a participant uses. That’s simple enough, but complexity enters when we look at just how much of a Plan goes unused as well as why!
First, let’s look at the rather staggering utilisation statistics …
Across the country, NDIS Participants are using just 68% of their plan budgets.
On average, NDIS budgets sit at $67,000, which leaves $21,440 worth of unused funds in the average Participant’s Plan.
As of March 2020 there were 364,879 Participants supported by the NDIS, so while we’re talking averages let’s do that bit of math … Multiply the number of participants by the average unspent Plan funds …
= a little over $7.5 billion. With a B.
Considering the numbers are so large, we thought it worth looking at why Participants aren’t using their Plan funds, and what happens to funds that have not been used…
Here’s a brief overview of NDSP’s take on why Plan funds are going unused:
Perhaps it’s as simple as this – many participants don’t actually have a complete understanding of what they can use their Plan funds on, or even maybe how to use them.
Of course this is likely not exclusive to Participants, where carers and guardians may also need to be provided a fuller understanding of how to use Plan Funds.
Just in case this sounds like you, head over to our previous article and download the PDF to gain a fuller understanding: https://ndsp.com.au/ndis-plan-as-an-ndis-participant/
2: Plan Innacuracy / Poor Quality Plans
According to the NDIA, there are some inefficiencies in the initial process for someone obtaining an NDIS Plan. One factor in this is that generally it’s difficult for the NDIA to understand what supports the Participant is receiving prior to obtaining their Plan. Generally, if someone is receiving specific supports already that are beneficial, they will continue to do so once their Plan is in place.
And, while approved NDIS-funded supports may differ from those currently received, the list of existing services should be used as a check to ensure that new plans are of a high quality, are complete and have a degree of consistency across participants.
This would also be a clear helper in the Participant achieving their goals.
The knock-on effect of this is that the Participant may request a Plan review, further delaying their ability to access Plan funds.
Thankfully, the NDIA have identified this as an issue and are taking steps to fix it.
3: Providers not being aware that a person now has an NDIS Plan
If a participant does not tell a provider that they have a Plan, existing services continue to be provided (potentially resulting in a provider not being funded for delivering services). While existing services continue, NDIS-funded supports are not being utilised.
An interesting result is that NDS has urged the NDIA to obtain permission from participants to enable them to inform providers on their behalf that they have a plan but to-date it has not implemented this practice.
There are no-doubt other factors involved in the “why”, so if you have some input we’d love to hear from you about it (https://ndsp.com.au/contact-us/). It’s important we all understand where the issues are, and how we can fix them so we can all get the best out of our Plan funds to achieve our goals!
If you yourself have found you’re not using your Plan to its fullest, just imagine how much closer to achieving your goals you could be if you were!
I’m near the end of my Plan and I have Funds remaining!
Not spending all of your budget won’t necessarily mean that your next plan will be reduced. According to the NDIA Each new plan is carefully considered by the planner and the ‘new’ allocation will always be based on the reasonable and necessary needs of the participant, NOT how much you spent during your last Plan period.
There have been situations in which a person’s follow up Plan has been reduced because of funds gone un-spent, but this is not the norm …
While the planner will most likely look at historic spending, it is best that you’ve providing explanations for why the funds were not spent, rather than to spend in a hurry. There are plenty of explanations to not having spent your Plan funds – health issues, a poor understanding of how to use your funds or any number of other reasons that will be taken into account during your next Planning meeting – you should be prepared to share this information when you can.
The most important thing – don’t panic! And don’t go on a spree, spending funds quickly. If you have questions about your Plan, get in touch with us and we can point you in the right direction.
Now is also a good time to include the NDIS provider search: https://www.ndis.gov.au/participants/working-providers/find-registered-provider
Ok, so what happens to unused plan funds?
In a nutshell, participants unutilised funding returns to the NDIS. In general terms, these funds are put back into NDIS circulation or used by the NDIA to improve the offering overall. To help you utilise your plan funds in a way that best works for you, we check-in with you to offer ‘advice that is general in nature’, but is designed to fit your circumstances.
Here’s our suggestion on approaching your plan to get the most out of it…
Given the nature of the NDIS being individualised there is not a one size fits all approach we can take, so we like to use this motto ‘Understand, Plan, Act & Track’ …
Understanding your plan and what services and supports can come from which budget and what reasonable and necessary from the get-go makes for a much smoother Journey.
Planning the services you’d like to use or simply continuing on with existing services sounds simple, however sometimes it gets a little bumpy. That’s where NDSP can help with price guide and look over service agreements to provide reassurance that your services will be sustainable throughout the life of your plan.
Acting on your plans is the fun and empowering part, this is where you participate in the supports or receive items/products that will assist you with your day to day life.
Tracking can seem daunting, however this is where NDSP have Nappa to assist! Nappa is our custom built Plan Management Portal that allows you to check and track you funding spends 24/7.
NDSP is a NDIS registered provider specialising in NDIS Plan Management. If you are a NDIS Participant looking for the right Plan Manager, CLICK HERE to get in touch with our friendly team today.