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02 Dec 2013

The National Disability Insurance Scheme could cost billions of dollars more than originally anticipated after the Abbott Government revealed spending in the first four months was almost a third higher than expected.
Assistant Minister for Social Security Mitch Fifield told the National Press Club that the average cost of care and support plans completed in the first three months of the scheme was $46,290, more than 32 per cent higher than the $34,969 average cost modelled by the Productivity Commission when it designed the scheme.
The blowout will fuel concerns about the costliness of the scheme, which is eventually expected to cover 460,000 people.
If the costs incurred in its initial rollout were sustained, the annual bill for the scheme – already expected to reach $22.2 billion by the end of the decade – could instead reach close to $30 billion.
The revelation came days after the Government’s chief business adviser, Maurice Newman, described the commitment to the NDIS as reckless.
But Senator Fifield said the Abbott Government was unshaken in its resolve to see the scheme fully implemented.
He said officials were looking closely at the first 921 care plans drawn up under the NDIS to determine why costs were substantially higher than expected.
“These are early trends, and the scheme is still in the preliminary stages of launch, and the agency itself is undertaking detailed work to see if there are some unique launch reasons for these early trends,” the Minister said.
Despite the blowout, Senator Fifield said he was “absolutely determined…to see the NDIS delivered in full”.
Adrian Rollins

Published: 02 Dec 2013