(Australian Associated Press)
The National Disability Insurance Scheme is estimated to leave the economy $52 billion better off, delivering $2.25 for every dollar spent.
An analysis commissioned by National Disability Services lays out the costs of underfunding the scheme, showing about 10,200 jobs are lost for every $1 billion of underspending.
Progressive think thank Per Capita calculates the economic benefit of the NDIS in 2020/21 as $52.4 billion, made of up economic activity worth $29 billion plus $23.3 billion in NDIS spending.
The scheme is also estimated to deliver $2.25 to the economy for every dollar spent.
Per Capita’s report warns any “savings” from underfunding the scheme would be self-defeating because they increase demand for other government services.
Every $1 billion of underfunding has been linked with an overall drop in employment and a $2.25 billion decline in economic activity, reducing employment by 0.1 per cent and total GDP by 0.14 per cent.
The peak body for non-government NDIS providers is using the data to push back against pressure to reign in the scheme’s costs.
“We have been concerned to see the focus change over the past year from the benefits of the scheme to the cost, with ongoing attempts to restrict access to the scheme and reducing supports available,” National Disability Services president Rohan Braddy said.
“We are hearing from people we support having their plans cut, while providers are seeing constant pressure to reduce the levels of support we provide under the NDIS.”
The NDIS supports 467,000 people with disabilities and about 270,000 workers across 11,600 providers.
The federal government has issued repeated warnings about the scheme’s sustainability.
Public pressure earlier this year resulted in the scrapping of a particularly controversial proposal that would have required all applicants and participants to undergo independent assessments.
Budget papers show the cost of NDIS participant plans is set to grow to $31.9 billion by 2024/25.
Labor’s NDIS spokesman Bill Shorten says the report is proof the scheme benefits all Australians.
He wants the government to release modelling that underpins its proposed overhaul.
A spokeswoman for NDIS Minister Linda Reynolds said the government was committed to demand-driven funding.
She reiterated the need to ensure the scheme’s sustainability and pointed to funding worth more than $17 billion in the last two budgets.
“As with all government programs funded by taxpayers, government has an obligation to ensure that the scheme is sustainable, and that funding is available for priorities across a range of portfolios.”