THE Education Minister told local authorities late on Wednesday that he assumed there was now agreement that the total cost of implementing the post McCrone negotiations would be some pound;430.4 million in 2003-04.
In a letter to Norman Murray, president of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, Jack McConnell made clear that while the Executive would fund the additional burdens arising from the talks he expected councils to provide thei share of normal pay rises. The Executive estimates this to be pound;42 million, split between 2002 and 2003.
As a sop to the authorities, Mr McConnell promised he would review the impact of the new burdens in 18 months. He has also hinted that he might ease restrictions on the spending of the Government's excellence fund money for schools.
Council leaders met on Wednesday in Edinburgh but withheld final approval of the package.