Your NDIS Core Support budget is intended to help you with everyday activities and disability-related expenses. You can use these funds to help meet your daily needs, work toward your goals, and develop foundational life skills.
Keep in mind that your core support budget, like all of your NDIS plan, can only be used for costs that are related to your disability. You can’t use it for daily expenses that everyone needs to pay, like rent and groceries. However, because your core support budget is very flexible, you can often leverage it in creative ways to meet your needs.
What’s included in your core support budget?
Your Activities of Daily Living budget provides supports that enable you to accomplish the essential tasks of everyday life, from preparing and eating meals to grooming and dressing. It can include a wide variety of supports, from a daily support worker to short-term respite housing accommodations.
Your NDIS Consumables budget helps you purchase accessibility items that enable you to perform daily activities. Most of these items are non-reusable items that you’ll need to purchase regularly, such as continence items or wound care items.
Your Participation budget provides supports that enable you to better participate in social activities, community events, and employment or job skills training. In addition to paying for a support worker to help you attend events, these funds can sometimes be used for costs like tuition or transport to a community event.
Your NDIS Transport budget is usually provided in a monthly set payment, and it cannot be used for other expenses.
How flexible is your core support budget?
Your core support budget is the most flexible category of your NDIS plan. Funds that are designated for your Daily Activities budget, your Consumables budget, or your Participation budget can easily be moved among those categories without any need to review your plan. This is because, although your Core Support budget provides recurring support for regular, everyday activities, the NDIA recognizes that the daily support you need can and should change over time. Your entire NDIS budget is designed to increase your capacity and independence, and so your core supports are likely to change.
For example, when you first design your plan, you might need a support worker to assist you with eating. However, your budget will also include capacity-building supports such as occupational therapy, which could increase your ability to feed yourself. Eventually, you might be able to eat independently, but only with the use of specialised eating utensils that are easier to grasp and pick up. You would be able to redirect the funds you were using for a support worker from your Activities of Daily Living budget to your Consumables budget so you could purchase the specialised utensils you need.
Your core support budget also allows for some creativity in your core support budget, as long as you can demonstrate that the way you spend your funding will help you work toward your goals. In addition, the NDIA often adjusts the flexibility of the core support budget, providing you even more options. For example, in March 2021 the NDIA approved using the low-cost assistive technology item, which is part of the Consumables budget, to purchase a tablet or iPad for accessing telehealth supports. In that same month, NDIA also approved redirecting funds that were planned for gym membership from the Participation budget toward renting gym equipment or accessing home fitness programs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, certain parts of your core support budget are not flexible and cannot be redirected to other categories. The non-flexible items in your core support budget include the following:
- Your transport allowance, if there is one in your plan;
- Funds for specialised disability living accommodations for people with high needs;
- In-kind pre-paid supports like public school transport; and
- Stated items that are quoted for your plan and stated in your budget as a specific expense, such as an individualised living arrangement.
Finally, the flexibility of your core support budget depends on how your plan is managed. If all of your core support budget is managed in the same way, then all the funds are flexible across categories. However, if some of your categories are self-managed and others are plan-managed or NDIA-managed, then you cannot move funds to a category that is managed differently. For example, if your daily living supports are plan-managed but your consumables are self-managed, then you cannot move funds from daily living to consumables. This limitation does not apply if you want to move funds between plan-managed and NDIA-managed categories; it only applies to categories that you manage yourself.
What happens if you overspend or underspend your core support budget?
Most of the items in your core support budget are subject to price limits, which are outlined in detail in the price guide. For hourly items, your NDIS plan will state how many hours you need of each type of service, and it’s up to you to schedule the correct number of support hours.
If your needs change or you need to be move funds from one category to another, then you could end up spending less or more on core support than you budgeted in your plan. There are several steps you can take to avoid this problem, and to address it if it happens.
First, be as accurate as possible when designing your NDIS plan. Make sure you include all the supports you need in your budget.
Second, track your spending. Most plan managers will provide you with a monthly statement of how you’ve used your funds and how much you have left in each category. If you are self-managing your plan, you can access this information at any time using the NDIS mobile app. Pay attention to how much you’re spending in each category to help you know if you need to leverage the flexibility of your core support budget.
Third, negotiate with your providers. Remember that the price limits set the maximum that providers should charge, but you can negotiate a lower price if your provider agrees. If you are accessing many different types of supports from the same provider, you may be able to save money on some services.
Finally, if you think you might overspend your budget, ask for a review of your plan as soon as possible. Reviewing your plan takes time, and there’s no guarantee that your budget will be increased after a review, so don’t wait until you’ve run out of money to try to change your plan.
It’s less common for participants to underspend their NDIS budget, but underspending is another reason to track your spending closely. You can’t apply unused funds to the following year, so any money in your NDIS budget that you don’t spend is money you won’t ever access. In addition, underspending your budget could indicate to NDIA that you don’t need all the funds you’re currently allotted, so it could result in your budget being lowered during your plan review. If you’re on track to underspend your budget, talk with your plan manager about supports you could add to help you achieve your goals.
NDIS Core Supports Examples
Below is a list of all the support items in each core support funding category. To learn more about the price limits for each item, click on the appropriate category.
- Assistance with self-care activities
- Specialised home based assistance for a child
- House or yard maintenance
- House cleaning and other household activities
- Assistance in supported independent living
- STA (short-term accommodation) and assistance (including respite)
- Medium term accommodation
- Assistance in living arrangements
- Individualised living options
- Self-management capacity building
- Delivery of health supports by an enrolled nurse, clinical nurse, clinical nurse consultant, or nurse practitioner
- COVID-19 SIL (supported independent living arrangement) services & supports
- Low-cost assistive technology
- AT (assistive technology) rental
- Adult continence items
- Child continence items
- Home enteral nutrition items
- Wound care items
- Disability-related health equipment and consumables set-up and training
- Respiratory items
- Access community, social, and recreational activities
- Group activities
- Supports in employment
- Group activities in the community or a centre
- Specialised transport to school/educational facility/employment/community