NDIS prepares for 'sustainability framework' as 20,000 participants added in three months

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The number of people enrolled in the National Diabetes Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has topped 600,000, with almost one in ten children aged between five and seven participating in the program.

At the end of June, marking the tenth year of the NDIS, 100,000 children younger than seven have an NDIS plan.

Overall, 49 per cent of the 610,000 people with NDIS plans have been in the program for six years.

Payments per participant also rise over time. The average first plan payment of $67,100 rises to $141,900 by the sixth plan.

Over 21,000 participants entered the NDIS in the three months to the end of June 2023, equating to around 350 every working day.

Participants have the option of managing their plans. However, only 29 per cent select this option, with 60 per cent opting for a plan manager.

According to the most recent quarterly update, "In the fourth quarter of 2022–23, 166,641 providers have supported plan-managed participants, out of which 13,343 were registered at some point during the quarter. Payments to plan managers were $4.9bn in the June 2023 quarter. Of this $4.9bn, $130m was for the plan management services, and the remainder of $4.8bn was for plan managers to pay service providers on behalf of participants."

Over the last four years, NDIS payments have risen from $10.5 billion to $35.1 billion. Over that same period, average annual payments per participant rose from $50,900 to $60,700.

The 2023-24 Budget forecast that total spending on the NDIS will reach $55.9 billion by 2026-27. The recently released 2023 Intergenerational Report estimated that NDIS spending as a share of gross domestic product will almost double over the next 40 years.

The 2023-24 Budget also included measures to manage the growth in NDIS spending.

The measures included $429 million over four years for the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), which administers the NDIS, for "capability and systems" to improve processes and planning decisions.

The National Cabinet also agreed to an NDIS Financial Sustainability Framework with the adoption of reducing growth in annual spending on the program to no more than 8 per cent by 2026.

The Department of Social Services (department) is establishing an 'expert advisory panel' to identify and assess evidence-based support for NDIS participants. According to the department, the panel will conduct cost-effectiveness reviews of technology and other supports.

The NDIA is also implementing preferred provider arrangements as a mechanism to leverage its "buying power".