With the NDIS rollout ploughing ahead, some providers are struggling to get paid. According to a new article by Kathleen Calderwood at the ABC, some large providers like Sylvanvale may be owed payments exceeding $3 million. Collectively, one estimate by the Vice President of National Disability Services and CEO of Achieve Australia, Anne Bryce has suggested the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) may owe providers as much as $300 million in unpaid supports.
Problems with payments are not new to the NDIS. When the NDIS rollout first launched in 2016, the Agency was marred by a catastrophic collapse of its new IT systems which left providers and NDIS participants without funding for months. Lack of payment pushed providers to the brink and prevented participants from getting much needed supports.
What is new is the scale and scope of this problem which is reportedly both enormous and growing. Recognition that the problem of payment has not been resolved and that the scale of the problem is significant does not appear to be lost on the NDIA. The agency has reportedly established a 20+ person Provider Payment team to address payment issues.
However in the absence of payment, the NDIA has left providers to draw down on their own cash reserves in order to continue to provider service and supports. While the NDIS was positioned as a job creator, bringing more opportunity to the sector, failure to effectively pay providers may end up costing jobs. The NDIS cashflow crunch may see some great providers out of business because they simply don’t have the cash to pay their staff and suppliers.
At the same time, the ABC suggests that the NDIA has not kept up with planning requirements for participants. We previously unpacked the major delivery challenges the NDIA was outsourcing to LACs when it pushed the front end planning process out to appointed partners. Those challenges will inevitably persist on an annual cycle for some time with a continuous 12month planning process. However, the ABC has uncovered that for some participants who are reaching the end of their 12 month plans, there has been no continuation of planning. Where plans have expired and no new plan put in place, funding has simply stopped.
Cashflow isn’t about greed. It’s about making sure real people have the funds they need to access supports and for those providers of supports to pay their staff and feed their families. Unfortunately, we are seeing that the capability of the NDIA to deliver the NDIS is lacking. Without transparency from the Agency on the size and scope of outstanding payments we can only guess at the number of people impacted.
To get some indication of the size of this problem, we are running a facebook poll. If you are an NDIS provider (and facebook user) let us know, have you been paid in full by the NDIA?
More on this story from ABC.net.au