Helpdesk Top Questions: November 2023
Here are some of the questions keeping the NDS Helpdesk team busy over the past month.
Who would be the best person or organisation to review an SDA Tenancy Agreement that has now been drawn up by three different providers? My participant has received an updated Resident Tenancy Agreement for review and signing. The agreement is between the SDA provider, the owner of the house and the resident. Utilities and food are being provided by a SIL provider who will issue separate service agreements.
I do not understand why there are separate agreements for SDA accommodation, for SIL and for utilities and food? Should the State Trustee, who is my participant's financial administrator, be given a copy of the tenancy agreement to approve, given that the rates of payment are to be agreed upon? Should the NDIS Planner be alerted to this? Please advise.
When a participant has SDA and SIL funding and lives in an SDA enrolled dwelling, several separate but related agreements need to be in place. These agreements need to meet requirements of the NDIA, NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission and the state government.
I see that you operate in Victoria, so the SDA provider (but not the owner, because they have given the responsibility over to the SDA provider) will need to enter into or establish a tenancy agreement. This agreement must meet Consumer Affairs Victoria’s requirements and follow the guidance on their website. The SDA provider will give the resident both the tenancy agreement and a prescribed information statement.
The SDA provider will be able to claim for SDA provision against what is funded in a participant’s plan and is in accordance with the SDA price guide. They can also charge rent, but it must not exceed:
- 25 per cent of the basic rate of the Disability Support Pension
- plus 25 per cent of any Pension Supplement they receive
- plus 25 per cent of any Youth Disability Supplement they receive
- plus all of any Commonwealth Rent Assistance they receive.
This is for the rental of exclusive use of a bedroom in the SDA property and access to all common areas.
The SIL agreement is separate. It covers the disability-related support in the home claimed from the NDIS plan and other non-disability related charges, such as utilities and food, that the resident has agreed to pay.
The SIL and SDA providers are generally not the same provider. Even when they are, there still needs to be separate agreements so that the participant, separately from any tenancy arrangements, can change support provider if they want to.
The SDA provider must also document arrangements with the residents’ Supported Independent Living (SIL) providers that outline roles and responsibilities for providing services to residents in SDA dwellings. This is a condition of their NDIS registration and is generally called a ‘collaboration agreement’.
Where financial decisions are made and State Trustees are involved, they generally would review financial agreements. The NDIS planner does not usually need to be involved.
I’m asking about GST and the board and lodging fee charged by a provider to our clients or residents in our SIL houses. Is the board/lodging fee subject to GST? Or is there an ATO ruling that contributions to running the household do not attract GST?
A supply to a NDIS participant is GST-free if all the following requirements are met:
- the NDIS participant has an NDIS plann effect
- the supply is of reasonable and necessary supports that are specified in the statement of supports in the participant’s NDIS plan
- there is a written agreement between you and the NDIS participant (or another person)
- it is a supply covered by one of the tables in A New Tax System (Goods and Services Tax).
From our examination of these tables, we note a reference to board and lodgings.
For more information see the Australian Taxation Office website where it deals with the GST-free status of NDIS supplies.
In general, everyday items, such as groceries, board and lodging costs, and utilities, sit alongside but are not part of NDIS-funded supports, and would, therefore, not meet the requirements for GST-free supply.
What is the PACE (Provider Digital Access) referral process for support coordinators and plan managers?
Participant plans will progressively be built in the NDIA’s new IT system PACE. The transition plan is:
- From 31 October, first time participants will have their plan built in PACE.
- From 31 October, where there is an identified change of circumstance or change of support needs, participants will have their plan reassessment completed in PACE.
- Between November 2023 and late February 2024, any participant who has a plan that expires will be contacted, and either:
- if no change is required, their plan will be rolled over in SAP and then transitioned to a PACE plan at the expiry of the rollover period (or sooner, if a change of circumstances arises).
- if changes are required to their plan, a new plan will be built in PACE.
- From the end of February 2024, all expiring plans will transition to PACE.
New Requests for Service (RFS) will be via PACE and will need to be responded to within four days.
Please see the myplace provider portal step-by-step guides for more details on registering on PACE, how to respond to a RFS, and what details should be supplied by the NDIA.
The RFS should contain information in eight parts:
- Parts one and two display the participant’s name, age, contact, details and other information.
- Parts three and four display the details of the request support coordination provider and the nature of the support coordination request.
- Part five displays the referrals for assessment that are part of helping the participant to implement their plan.
- Part six displays details for the participant, such as disability information, living arrangements, relationships and supports.
- Part seven displays the participant’s goals.
- Part eight displays the participant’s funded supports included in the participant’s plan.
NDS recently published information for unregistered support coordinators and recovery coaches to register in PACE.
Can you advise when we will need to transition to the new PACE system for our service?
Participants have started to transition to the new PACE system since 31 October. As participant plans need to be renewed or changed, their new plans will be created in the PACE system. From February 2024, all participant plans that are expiring or have a change of circumstance will be put into the PACE system. If there are no changes to the plan, the participant will remain in the old system until their plan is due for renewal. For more information about the PACE rollout: PACE: What you need to know (nds.org.au).
How do we manage conflicts of interest when we provide both support coordination and core supports?
All providers need to act with integrity, honesty and transparency under the NDIS Code of Conduct. The NDIA recommends that support coordinators must:
- recommend and provide supports and services appropriate to the needs of the participant
- maintain integrity by declaring and avoiding any real or perceived conflicts of interest
- avoid engaging in, participating in or promoting sharp practices.
The NDIS has always upheld a participant’s right to choose who they purchase services from, but prefer, where possible, that a person’s support coordinator is not from the same service that they purchase most of their support from. Indeed, recently Disability Royal Commission recognised a conflict of interest and recommended (Recommendation 10.2) that the NDIS should create a rule, with certain exceptions, that it is not appropriate for a supplier of support coordination to provide any other funded supports.
If an organisation provides support coordination and core supports to the same participant, they need to make sure that the conflict of interest is declared to the participant and details given as to how it will be managed. Ideally, there should be a separation between support coordination teams and other team members. Record keeping should be separate. The support coordinator must always act in the best interest of the participant and not necessarily the organisation. For example, participants should be able to discuss with coordinators supports they are not happy with or explore alternative support providers. Support coordinators need to present options other than those provided by their organisation to their participants.
The NDIS Practice Standards also set out what registered NDIS providers are required to do to avoid real or perceived conflicts of interest.
The NDIS have questioned our claims, because we indexed the claim amounts on Quoted SIL for 2019–21. We have been told that, as a quoted amount, the price is fixed. Is the price fixed for 12 months? Or if a plan was auto-extended, as many were, can we claim the higher amount from the accepted quoted price once the 12 months is up? Some increases were more than the five percent the NDIS allowed for indexing, especially if plans ran four to six months over the original time.
In general, providers submit a roster of care, a quote and other supporting information for the provision of SIL supports. Based on this, the NDIA will offer the participant a fixed annual amount for regular SIL support and the annual funding for irregular SIL supports.
The NDIS website states that the NDIA will automatically adjust SIL funding to reflect any funding changes that affect the participant’s SIL plan value, such as any indexation changes.
The SIL provider should have a service agreement with the participant to deliver services at the amount funded by the NDIS. If indexation is applied to the SIL budget — for example, after the annual price review — the participant would need to agree to increased charges via an addendum to the service agreement. The provider can only charge in line with funding in the plan and the SIL funding offered by the Agency.
Can you tell me if the Portable Long Service Leave scheme is compulsory for service providers?
The Long Service Benefits Portability Act 2018 is a Victorian law and, therefore, those employers defined in the Act must comply with their obligation to register with the Authority and lodge quarterly returns. Failure to comply could bring a compliance action. The Community Services industry is, in general, required to register with this service.