Significant refurbishment supplement ‘not under review’

The Federal Government is not reviewing the significant refurbishment supplement, and the initial number of applications received is broadly in line with expectations, Assistant Minister for Social Services Mitch Fifield has confirmed to AAA.

 

The Federal Government is not reviewing the significant refurbishment supplement, and the initial number of applications received is broadly in line with expectations, Assistant Minister for Social Services Mitch Fifield has confirmed.

Senator Fifield was responding to questions from Australian Ageing Agenda following the revelation he previously described the supplement as having “inadequate modelling and budgeting”.

In a letter to the secretary of the Department of Social Services Finn Pratt on 30 May, Senator Fifield ordered a review of the other supplements in the Living Longer Living Better reforms, following the ten-fold blowout in the dementia supplement.

Senator Fifield wrote:

“There are a number of other supplements that were introduced as part of the previous government’s reform package which, based on the over-expenditure in the [dementia supplement] and the inadequate modelling and budgeting of the significant refurbishment supplement, may also be at risk of going over budget.”

The letter was contained in documents obtained by Australian Ageing Agenda through a Freedom of Information Act request.

This admission follows public comments by Senator Fifield that some aged care providers have interpreted as suggesting the significant refurbishment supplement was under review.

In his address to the ACSA National Conference in Adelaide two weeks ago, Senator Fifield said that initiatives had to be financially sustainable and could not blow out in the way of the dementia supplement.

He went on to say: “Some of you have queried what this might mean for the higher accommodation supplement. It means it has to be monitored and operate within its funding allocation. It is the only way it is sustainable and the only way to provide certainty.”

AAA put several questions to Senator Fifield’s office seeking clarification on his comments in the 30 May letter. Specifically, we asked for further details on the “inadequate modelling and budgeting” of the significant refurbishment supplement; the latest available figures on the estimated expenditure, and actual expenditure for the supplement; and for confirmation of whether the supplement was under review.

In response, Senator Fifield said the Federal Government “supported the purpose of the supplement”, and was not reviewing it.

However, he said he had asked the department and the Aged Care Sector Committee to monitor it and work with him to ensure it was successfully implemented and provided the stimulus required.

“I want the supplement to serve as a model for partnership with the industry, having already briefed the Aged Care Sector Committee and Aged Care Financing Authority on this monitoring work I will continue to do so.

“While it is only very early in the implementation of the supplement, the initial number of applications received is broadly in line with expectations,” Senator Fifield said.

Among aged care providers the supplement is widely perceived as a crucial element of government funding that provides certainty of funding and an incentive to make capital investments.

Specifically, in NSW, many planned refurbishments include installation of sprinklers, and the supplement is seen as essential in assisting providers to meet the government mandated deadline for sprinklers.

Under the supplement, aged care services that are newly built or significantly refurbished after 20 April 2012 are eligible to receive a higher accommodation supplement for supported, concessional or assisted care recipients. From 1 July 2014 the supplement increased from $34.20 per day to $52.49 per day.

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Tags: aged-care-reform, dementia-supplement, freedom of information, lllb, mitch-fifield, signficant refurbishment supplement, slider, sprinklers,

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