NDIS: more participants but no new policy

by David Richardson

In the 2022-23 budget the Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, said:

“The NDIS has changed the lives of 500,000 Australians and their families. In this Budget, NDIS funding grows in every year. Under the Coalition, the NDIS will always be fully funded.”

The claim that “funding grows in every year” is actually very misleading but continues the exaggerations we saw last budget and on other occasions. Comparing the figures in this and last year’s budget we find that there is indeed additional spending as shown in the table below.

Last year This budget Difference
2020-21 24,840 N/A N/A
2021-22 27,969 30,773 2,804
2022-23 29,724 35,756 6,032
2023-24 30,696 39,444 8,748
2024-25 33,254 42,857 9,603
2025-26 46,083 N/A

Table 1: Spending on NDIS $million

This table shows there are large increases in NDIS spending over the forward estimates. Where there are common figures between the budgets, we find there is an increase of $2.8 billion in 2021-22 up to $9.6 billion in 2024-25. Over those years the difference amounts to $27.2 billion.

Further inspection of Budget Paper No 2 shows the new money is a very small $0.4 million funding increase for the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission. So virtually the whole of the $27.2 billion is due to a higher than expected participation in the scheme. Also not mentioned is that the states and territories fund a large part of the NDIS spending.

The other noteworthy aspect of the Treasurer’s speech is the reference to NDIS being “fully funded”. That may seem strange, but we suspect it reflects community concern that there may not be enough money to fund everyone who meets the criteria. We wrote about those concerns in some comments on the 2018-19 budget. Those concerns reflected the joint Commonwealth/State responsibilities, ambiguities in the Commonwealth’s commitments and the lack of a firm funding base. Australia tends to have a good system for those who can manage the waiting lists and other hurdles, but not so for those who find those impediments difficult to manage. Those problems came to a head when it was revealed that the government had a deliberate strategy of making it hard to apply and to slow down approvals in order to reduce costs.

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