My right hon. Friend met local authority representatives on Friday 4 July, but pay was not on the agenda. The local authorities know that any increase agreed must be funded from their existing resources.
Pay awards are matters for local authorities within their allocated resources. Clearly, the substantial increase announced by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor in the Budget—£89 million for education—will help local authorities considerably next year. Adherence to the best value regime, which we are promoting as a key plank of our policy, will help local authorities greatly.
Councils will be able to fulfil their statutory requirements and, because of the Budget, will have extra resources for education. We stand by our election pledge to make education our number one priority.
We said at the election that we would abide by the public expenditure guidelines that we inherited, for years one and two. We have found substantial additional resources for education, and we are expecting efficiency savings in local government from the best value agenda.
Is not the truth that the £4 deal is about Labour councillors buying off the trade unions in case they have to turn to them for support when it comes to running a Scottish Parliament, should one ever be established? Does not this mean that the ambition of Labour's second-raters will be paid for with the jobs and services of the ordinary people of Scotland?
The simple answer to that is no. The agreement is between local authorities and the trade unions and has nothing to do with the Labour Government. Labour and other authorities know full well that any pay award must be funded from within existing resources.