We often experience people using significantly less than what is available in their NDIS budgets. Did you know ‘underspending’ can 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.
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.
1. 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. Understanding your NDIS plan and what each support category means is a good start.
2. 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.
3. 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 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!