ONLY two-thirds to three-quarters of the money committed to National Disability Insurance Scheme participants is actually being spent, the latest quarterly report on the scheme reveals.
The report by the National Disability Insurance Agency says that 119,501 people were being supported by the NDIS at the end of September.
A total of $9.5 billion in supports had been committed to 112,785 participants, but this included money for future years.
Since the scheme began in 2013, a total of $3.9 billion had been paid to participants and providers.
“Overall, 64% of committed supports were utilised in 2013-14, 74 per cent in 2014-15 and 75 per cent in 2015-16,” the report said.
Asked about the difference between the amounts committed and the amounts spent, a spokesperson for the disability insurance agency said: “Historic utilisation has been about 75 per cent of committed supports, even after allowance is made for payment lags.”
The reasons behind under-utilisation were complex, and included participants taking time to learn how to use the scheme, changes in personal circumstances, a need for the “disability support market to mature in some areas” and providers not claiming all they were owed in a particular quarter.
In October, the Productivity Commission published a study into the costs of the NDIS, noting that “costs are broadly on track with the NDIA’s long-term modelling, but this is in large part because not all committed supports are used”.
At the same time, the productivity commission said: “The benefits of the NDIS are also becoming apparent. Early evidence suggests that many (but not all) NDIS participants are receiving more disability supports than previously, and they have more choice and control.”
The NDIA report also noted that there were still 203 “young people” living in residential aged care facilities under the NDIS, compared with 21,924 young participants who were not in residential aged care.
The spokesperson said these people needed “intensive support”, and the agency was working with other federal departments to ensure they gained access to the NDIS.
Breaking NDIS participants into primary disability, the report found that 32,322 people, or 29 per cent of the total, had an intellectual disability.
The next biggest category with 31,771 funded participants was autism, followed by psychosocial, with 7502 participants, and cerebral palsy with 5741.
In financial terms, 41.7 per cent of “total annualised support” went to people with intellectual disability, followed by 16.9 per cent for people with autism and 9 per cent for cerebral palsy.