Public sector union Unison is hoping to secure an end to the long-running local government pay dispute before Christmas.
Unions met with local government employers and conciliation body Acas yesterday to agree terms of reference for thrashing out a pay deal for 2008-09.
Councils have insisted they can not pay more than 2.45%, while unions originally asked for a hike of 6%.
An interim pay increase of 2.45% backdated to April was recently announced for all local authority staff. That will arrive in pay packets in December, and Unison also wants to have some permanent news by then.
A Unison spokeswoman told Personnel Today: "We are hoping we will have an indication before Christmas. We wanted to get some money into pay packets, which we have done with the interim deal, and we are trying to get an early deal from Acas for the same reasons."