How to avoid underspending your NDIS budgets
In one of our latest articles we looked at how you can avoid running out of your NDIS budgets too soon. However, we also experience lots of people using significantly less than what is available in their NDIS budgets.
Did you know that this ‘underspending’ could present a risk of its own?
The dangers of underspending your NDIS budgets
If you’re underspending your budgets, you may not be receiving the support you need to achieve the goals identified in your NDIS plan. But it can also have a less obvious negative effect.
The NDIS considers several things when they determine how much money is allocated to each of your NDIS plan’s support categories – one of which is how much you spent on them during your previous plan. This means that if you don’t spend all your budgets before the end of your plan, you may find they’re reduced in your next one.
COVID-19 Update: COVID-19 has changed many participants’ support needs, resulting in them not being able to spend their full budgets. Fortunately, the NDIS are taking this into account when looking at underspending. Plans that are due to expire will also be automatically extended by 12 months with the same budgets, removing the need for a plan review. Find out more
How to avoid underspending
Because budgets are based on your goals and the supports you need, it’s very rare that you’ll deliberately choose to not use all your funding. In our experience, there are three main reasons for underspending – but luckily all are easily avoidable.
Not knowing what to do once you get your plan
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you get your NDIS plan and see all the complex language and information about budgets and support categories for the first time. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources out there to help you get your head around your NDIS plan, so if you feel you’re underspending or not getting the most out of your budgets, seek help. Our handy ‘Understanding your NDIS plan’ webpage is a good place to start. It explains what each support category means and gives examples and tips how to spend your budgets.
Not being able to find service providers
Finding NDIS service providers can be tricky – especially in regional areas. This can lead to underspending, simply because you weren’t able to locate a provider to spend your NDIS funding on. Support Coordination can help avoid this scenario by finding and connecting you with local service providers, while Plan Management lets you access a much larger number of providers – registered as well as unregistered with the NDIS. This article gives you some handy tips on how to find service providers.
Not tracking your budget
Some underspending is caused by trying to avoid going over budget, without keeping a close eye on how much your spending. The Plan Partners Dashboard - also available as an App - is a very handy online tool that makes tracking your NDIS spending simple by showing how much of each support category’s funds you’ve spent and how much you have left - all in simple, easy to understand overviews and graphs. You can view and approve your invoices, submit reimbursements and much more. We even provide you with examples on what you can spend your budgets on for each support category. The Dashboard is available to all our customers.
What to do if you have underspent your budget at the end of your plan
If you realise you're likely to come in under budget at the end of your plan, don't panic. The best thing to do is to document why you haven’t been able to spend your budget and obtain proof of why you still need the funding in your next plan. This will allow you to explain your situation clearly to your Local Area Coordinator at your annual plan review, so be sure to go in well-prepared and with your supporting materials.
If you have a Support Coordinator, they might be able to help you with this. And if you have Plan Management with Plan Partners, your online Dashboard - also available as an App - is a handy tool to show your NDIS planner exactly what you've spent your budgets on.
Most people are aware they shouldn’t go over their NDIS budget, but the dangers of going under are lesser known. Follow our top tips below to make the most of your funding and avoid underspending!
- Not spending your NDIS budgets can usually result in them being reduced in your next plan, however due to COVID-19 the NDIS have stated they won’t do this.
If you don’t want your plan to automatically extend and would like to request a plan review, make it clear that the reason you’ve underspent is because of your circumstances temporarily changing due to COVID-19.
Underspending can be just as bad as overspending – don’t treat coming in under budget as a win!
- Be active with your budgeting and keep a close eye on how you’re tracking – Plan Management will help you with this, and our Plan Partners Dashboard - also available as an App - is a very handy online tool that makes it easy to stay on top of your spending and your invoices.
- Make sure that your service providers are providing their invoices in a timely manner, so you know exactly what you’re spending. We’ve seen cases of people thinking they were underspending when they weren’t, simply because their providers were behind on providing invoices.
- If you don’t understand everything in your NDIS plan and what your budgets can be spent on, you’re not the only one – so reach out for help! At Plan Partners, we know the NDIS inside out, so reach out to speak to one of our team and we’ll do everything we can to help you.
- Support Coordination helps you find and connect with service providers in your area. If you’re having difficulty locating the care you need, it might be for you - call our team to find out more.
- If you think you are going to come in under budget, make sure you document well why you haven’t been able to spend your budget and acquire proof of why you still need these supports. Explaining the reasons why you’re not spending your allocated budget will help avoid having it reduced in your next plan.
Would you like more information or discuss how you can prevent underspending? Or do you have another question about your NDIS plan? We’re here to help. Chat with us online or give us a call on 1300 333 700.