Using your NDIS budgets to get the supports you need
Lots of people get to the end of their NDIS plan with some of their funds left over. In fact, around one third of all NDIS funds go unspent. This is what we refer to as ‘underspending’.
While having a small amount of money left in your plan when it ends is perfectly normal, having large amounts can be an issue. Fortunately, there are some simple things you can do to help avoid underspending to get the most from your plan.
Why you should spend as much of your budgets as possible
Your budgets are there to help you achieve your goals. If you reach the end of your plan with lots of budget left over, it can be a sign you’re not getting the support you need to reach those goals. This is why we encourage and work with our customers to spend as much of their budget on support as possible.
Also, if the NDIS notice you haven’t used a lot of budget, they may see it as a sign that you don’t need it. This can then lead to you getting less money for supports in your next plan.
How can I avoid underspending my NDIS budgets?
There are many reasons why you might be spending less of your budgets than expected. Let’s take a look at some of the most common and what you can do about each.
Reason 1: It’s your first plan and you’re not sure where to start
With its many rules and terminology, the NDIS can feel overwhelming, particularly if you’re new to it all. If you’ve just received your first NDIS plan and are having trouble setting up your supports, here are some steps that can help:
- Familiarise yourself with your plan and get to know what you can spend each of your support category budgets on. This is a great starting point that can help get you thinking about what’s possible with your plan.
- You don’t need to go it alone, so ask for advice from someone who knows the NDIS. This can be a professional (like us), a friend who has an NDIS plan of their own, or an online discussion group. This is your chance to ask any questions you have about the types of supports that are out there and how you can access them with your budget.
Reason 2: You get the basics but are unsure what else you can use your budgets for
Once you’ve got some of your key supports in place, it may be time to think ‘outside of the box’. With so many supports out there, here’s how you can find some less obvious ones that can help you achieve your NDIS goals:
- Learn how the NDIS decides which supports are reasonable and necessary. Once you understand this concept, you’ll be able to explore all the options available to you.
- Core funding is great for getting creative because it’s flexible and can be used to access many different supports.
- Your Plan Partners Dashboard gives you handy examples of each type of support you have in your plan to kickstart the process.
Reason 3: You’re worried about spending too much and going over your budget
It’s natural to not want to run out of a budget too quickly, but that shouldn’t stop you from getting the most out of your NDIS plan. Here’s how you can access the supports you need without worrying about running out of budget:
- Track your budgets regularly with your Plan Partners Dashboard. The simple chart lets you see how much budget’s left at a glance and even shows how long your plan has left. It also comes in an app, so you can keep an eye on your budgets when you’re not in front of the computer.
- Service agreements are a great way to ensure you don’t go over budget. They’re basically contracts that state exactly how many hours your service provider will work and how much they’ll charge you. This is a good habit to get into and one we recommend to all our customers.
Reason 4: You’re saving your budget for later in your plan
Your support needs probably won’t stay the same throughout your plan. If you’re not spending a chunk of your budget because you’re saving it for a specific future event, that’s perfectly fine. An example of this would be if a member of your informal support network is going on a holiday later in the year, so you’ve put some funds aside to access a support worker.
Have more questions?
- If you’re finding it difficult finding the right service providers for you (or even one in your area with capacity), Support Coordination can be helpful.
- If a service provider isn’t submitting their invoices regularly, it can appear as though you’re underspending when you actually aren’t. In this case, ask your service providers to submit their invoices as soon as possible – this means they get paid quicker and will give you a more accurate overview of your spending to help keep track of your funds.
- Be active with your budgeting and monitor how you’re tracking. As Plan Managers, this is something we can help with. When plan managed by us, you also get access to your very own Plan Partners Dashboard (also available as an app), which is a handy online tool that makes tracking and managing your spending and invoices easier. It also gives handy tips on how to use your budgets.
- If by the end of your plan, you have a lot of unused funding remaining, let the NDIS know the reasons why. Presenting supporting evidence can support why you still need your budget to avoid having it reduced in your next plan.