MORE than 250,000 Scots local government workers and teachers have been offered a 1% pay rise after a three-year pay freeze.

The 17,000 lowest paid staff will also receive a guaranteed living wage of £7.50 an hour from April. That offer is the best outside London says Cosla, the umbrella group for councils. The pay rise is below inflat-ion of 2.7%, but Cosla said local authorities had gone to the "limits of affordability".

Four-fifths of the 17,000 workers to benefit from the new living wage are women. It is 5p above the rate announ-ced by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

Unions broadly welcomed the pay offer –which affects one in 10 Scots – given that better-paid members, those earning £21,000 a year or more, were told in 2010 that pay would be frozen until March.

Alex McLuckie, senior organiser for the public sector at GMB Scotland, said he was happy with aspects of the offer but wanted "more on the table", particularly for workers on less than £21,000.

He said: "Given that we've had a period of three years of no pay increase we still think it's a bit light."

Unions will now consult on the proposals with workers, but the Educational Institute of Scotland criticised Cosla for going public with the offer before discussions with teaching unions.

Councillor Billy Hendry, Cosla's human resources spokesman, said the offer "shows that councils value their workforce".