New Disability Accommodation Charge to Provide Simplicity, More Transparency, Greater Certainty

A new board and lodging fee for government-managed disability accommodation will be simpler, more transparent and provide greater certainty for residents.

Minister for Disability Services and Reform Mary Wooldridge said that following broad consultation, a new Board and Lodging fee will be implemented in early 2014 for 2,100 residents in government-run accommodation.

The new fee bundles all existing charges into a single, transparent fee that includes the cost of a person’s rent, utilities, communications including telephone, communal furnishings and whitegoods, food, general household consumables, household equipment and utensils and bedding and linen.

This fee will incorporate expenses that can vary significantly such as electricity and other utility bills, providing residents with greater certainty in relation to their disposable income.

The changes will also enable people with disability living in government-managed disability residential services to access and contribute Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA) towards the cost of their residential charge.

The changes do not implement the previously proposed fee increase of 75 per cent of the disability support pension. The only impact on a resident’s disposable income will be adjustments for cost-of-living increases equivalent to adjustments in the Disability Support Pension.

In order to assist the transition to the new Board and Lodging fee, the government is seeking to amend the Disability Act 2006 to clarify the role of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) in relation to setting fees for disability residential services.

To be introduced to Parliament this week, the amendments will ensure government and nongovernment providers can make fee adjustments reflecting income from CRA, as well as cost-of-living increases.

Residents or their administrators will retain their rights to apply for a VCAT review of fee changes. However, if a residential fee change makes adjustments for cost-of-living increases or CRA, VCAT must dismiss it.

Ms Wooldridge also announced that the Coalition Government is initiating a review of residential fees in supported accommodation.

The review will provide advice on the development of a fair and equitable fee structure for residential services as disability support transitions to the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Issues to be examined include charging models; the impact on residents of other disabilityrelated costs such as fees for day services and transport; hardship policies; and opportunities to improve processes and reduce administrative burden.

Service providers and disability advocates will be consulted in the review process, which will be conducted by the State Services Authority.

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Topics:
Housing, Accommodation, Tenancy

Author:
Mary Wooldridge Minister for Mental Health, Women's Affairs and Community Services

Source:
Government Media Release

Date published:
Tue 29th Oct, 2013