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ICE council backs subscriptions rise to fund 'quality output'

ICE Council last week voted decisively to raise subscriptions in 2009 by 4% – the third above-inflation increase in four years.

The rise was agreed as vital to enable the Institution to deliver increased services, external influence and value to members around the world.
"We [the ICE] are ambitious and we have a long way to go," vice president Scott Steedman told Council in support of the increase.

"This requires high-quality output and information, which requires the high-quality staff that we train and improve.

"The reality is that the subscription is not a price-sensitive thing. It is not an issue for members – 4% is not a lot of money."

Steedman was referring to the recent focus group work for the 2008 ICE member satisfaction survey, which highlighted that, as in 2003, the subscription level was still very low on members' list of priorities. Work is now well advanced on the main survey .

The 4% increase is based on a 2.5% inflation increase supplemented by a further 1.5%.

It will mean subscriptions in 2009 will rise to £317 for fellows and £244 for members. The vote to raise subs was carried 34 to five.

This latest subs increase follows rises of 2.5% in 2008 and 9% in 2007. These increases, decided by Council, followed an increase of 15% in 2006 voted for by the membership specifically to fund ICE's regional expansion (NCE 26 May 2005).

Another discussion item at last week's Council meeting agreed that investment in this regionalisation was delivering tangible improvements to members, especially in engagement with government at all levels.

However, not all council members agreed with the latest increase. John Albinson expressed disappointment at the rise given that pay rises were running at 3%.

"That it is only a few pounds is a very dangerous argument," he said. "Members will start to turn away."
Under ICE by-laws, the latest subs rise is the last permitted before Council needs to seek approval of the membership, with such a vote likely to take place in May 2009.

Also at last week's Council meeting, a proposal to reduce graduate engineer subscriptions by 50% in the first year of membership was ruled out. Growing numbers of new graduate members have seen the projected cost for this initiative rise from £150,000 to £216,000 a year and Council felt this could be better spent.

Instead there will be a focus on promoting the value of graduate membership.

The decision prompted extended discussion by Council before being carried 37 to three.

Council also voted to retain the £50 retired and concessionary rate for 2009, to increase the two voluntary donations from £3 to £5 and to increase the single direct debit payment discount from £3 to £5.

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