In Australia unerspending on the national disability insurance scheme is projected to run to as much as $5bn by the end of the financial year, according to an economist who was one of the scheme’s key architects.
Prof Bruce Bonyhady, the inaugural chair of the National Disability Insurance Agency, said the underspend “strikes at one of the fundamental principles of the scheme, which is that it is about equality and and being fair to people with disabilities as quickly as possible”.
NDIS payments were down $2.5bn.
Bonyhady said the unspent money could have been put to essential use elsewhere. He said it was not a good sign that people in the scheme were not using the full support offered by their packages – people were on average spending just 70% of the funding allocated to them.
“In that $2.5bn underspend there is more than enough to make sure the scheme works for everybody,” Bonyhady told Guardian Australia. “This scheme has to be equitable, so I think it’s very important that the money not spent is used to deliver the scheme in line with the original vision for it. If the slow rollout continues at this rate and package utilisation continues at 70% – and all indications are they will – then the underspend will reach $4.5bn to $5bn dollars by the end of this financial year.”