So Just How Flexible Is Flexible… In The NDIS?

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So Just How Flexible Is Flexible… In The NDIS?

Written by: Anthea Taylor l NDIS Plan Management Team


It’s no secret that the National Disability Insurance Scheme has a few grey areas, including references to flexibility.  Although ‘flexible’ is cited as a Principle Relating to (NDIS) Plans in Section 31 of the National Disability Insurance Scheme Act (2013), and is a foundation of choice and control, Participants of the NDIS (and their plan nominees) can be excused for being confused about the references to their NDIS Plans and funding being flexible.

The esteemed Oxford English Dictionary defines the adjective flexible as:

Capable of being bent, admitting of change in figure without breaking; yielding to pressure; pliable, pliant; that can be ‘bent’, inclined or rendered favourable to; susceptible of modification or adaptation to various purposes.

This is also the general man on the street understanding of flexible and implied for National Disability Insurance Scheme plans.  However, the flexible utilisation of the funding is conditional.  It may be flexible for some supports, but it is definitely not flexible for all.  So just how flexible is flexible?  Is the use of NDIS Funding flexible like a Gumby doll, all bendable and stretchable?  Or flexible like a Barbie doll, flexible at all joints only?

The flexibility to use allocated funding is not a free for all, and it shouldn’t be.  The purpose of the funding is to engage supports and services in context to an NDIS Participant’s disability to assist with pursuing the goals identified in their NDIS Plan.  The support or service must be what the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) consider to be a reasonable and necessary support, and if the NDIS Participant is either plan managed or agency managed, comply with the NDIS Pricing Arrangements and Price Limits.  This is where the flexibility of funding is ringfenced.

NDIS Management

The criteria for reasonable and necessary supports are stated in Section 34 of the National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013.  This is a significant section of the Act as it is the basis of the National Disability Insurance Agency calculating the allocation of funding for an NDIS Participant.

National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013 – Section 34.1

(1) For the purposes of specifying in a statement of participant supports, the general supports will be provided and the reasonable and necessary support that will be funded, the CEO must be satisfied of all the following in relation to the funding or provision of each support:

   a. the support will assist the participant to pursue the goals, objectives and aspirations included in the participant’s statement of goals and aspirations;

   b. the support will assist the participant to undertake activities, so as to facilitate the participant’s social and economic participation;

   c. the support represents value for money in that the costs of the support are reasonable and necessary, relative to both the benefits achieved and the cost of alternative support;

   d. the support will be, or is likely to be, effective and beneficial for the participant having regard to current good practice;

   e. the funding or provision of the support takes account of which is reasonable to expect families, carers, informal networks and the community to provide;

   f. the support is more appropriately funded or provided through the National Disability Insurance Scheme and is not more appropriately funded or provided through other general systems of service delivery or support services offered by a person, agency or body, or systems of service delivery or support services offered:

      i. as part of a universal service obligation; or

      ii. in accordance with reasonable adjustments required under a law dealing with discrimination on the basis of disability.

For plan managed or agency managed funds, the NDIS Pricing Arrangements and Price Limits sets out the types of supports and services, and the maximum payable rate recognised and regulated by the National Disability Insurance Agency and the NDIS Quality and Safety Commission.

The National Disability Insurance Agency structure and NDIS Participant’s plan around three possible categories of support: Core, Capacity Building and Capital.  The ability to be flexible with the use of the funding is dependent on the category and the supports that are considered to be reasonable and necessary.

Core Supports

The Core support funding is intended to assist NDIS Participants with their everyday activities including personal tasks and social participation.  Core support funding is the most flexible of the three categories.

The cover letter that is sent to NDIS Participants with their plan also states “Please note that funds in your core budget are flexible.  This means you can choose how to spend this funding to meet your support needs.”  The flexibility is more in the how not the what.

Core supports are made up of four subcategories:

  • Assistance with Daily Life
  • Consumables – including low-cost assistive technology
  • Assistance with Social and Community Participation
  • Transport

The funding allocated o the subcategory is dependent on the NDIS Participant’s funded disability and their goals.  The flexibility lies in the NDIS Participant generally being able to reallocate funding between the categories to best suit their needs to meet their goals.

There is however an element of inflexibility if an NDIS Participant has transport funding paid in instalments, usually fortnightly directly into their bank account.  If the NDIS Plan is set up for the instalments, the NDIS Participant can not move funds from the other subcategories to top up their transport funding, or vice versa, any unused transport funding paid to them can not be reallocated back to any of the sub-categories.

Capacity Building Supports

Capacity Building funding is allocated to help build independence and skills to assist the NDIS Participant to pursue and achieve their goals.  As with Core supports, Capacity Building supports consist of subcategories – nine no less.

  • Support Coordination
  • Improved Living Arrangements
  • Increased Social and Community Participation
  • Finding and Keeping a Job
  • Improved Relationships
  • Improved Health and Wellbeing
  • Improved Learning
  • Improved Life Choices – a personal favourite of Canny Plan Management as this is the allocation of funding that pays for NDIS Plan Management
  • Improved Daily Living

Unlike Core supports, the funding allocated for Capacity Building supports can not be reallocated between the subcategories.

Where available and applicable to the NDIS Participant’s funded disability, and depending on the subcategory, there may be some flexibility.  Ie – Both Health and Well-being, and Improved Daily Living can be used for exercise physiology, personal training or dietitian supports.

Improved Daily Living provides for a range of allied health supports – conditional on qualifications and registration of the allied health practitioner.  It also provides for supports to assist with decision-making, planning and budgeting, along with general life skill development.

Capital Supports

Capital Supports are considered investments in bigger ticket items such as assistive technology over $1,500, home or vehicle modifications or Specialist Disability Accommodation, across two subcategories:

  • Assistive Technology
  • Home Modifications

Capital funding has the least flexibility as it is generally allocated for specific items identified in an NDIS Participant’s plan following a request and recommendation from an allied health professional or another suitable person in relation to the item.

The National Disability Insurance Agency can also restrict flexibility by making some supports as Stated Supports in that a specific amount is restricted to a specific support.

Canny Plan Management + Your NDIS Budgets

If you are unsure about the flexibility in your NDIS Plan, Canny Plan Management can help you to understand and navigate your NDIS Plan and funding so that you get the supports and services that you need, when you need them.  Get in touch with our team today to find out why we are the leaders in NDIS Plan Management services.

Head of NDIS Plan Management Anthea Taylor stands centre in the photograph wearing thick red framed glasses and wearing a white dress with a large black paisley print covering

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