MSPs are to examine the set-up at Scotland's councils.

The Local Government and Regeneration Committee's inquiry will look at local authorities' flexibility, autonomy, and constitutional and funding arrangements.

It will compare the structures in place in Scotland with other jurisdictions as well as how remote communities, such as rural or island communities, are served within local government structures.

The inquiry is expected to begin taking oral evidence in April.

Committee convener Kevin Stewart said: "Local democracy plays a vital role in the lives of people across Scotland.

"As we debate questions about Scotland's constitutional future it is timely our committee take the opportunity to examine whether the local democratic structures currently in place are right for Scotland, no matter what the future may bring.

"Our committee will look at a range of issues during this inquiry and we want to hear from those with an interest in how local government operates as well as those living and working in communities about their experiences of local government.

"This inquiry is about looking across Scotland and beyond to ensure local government is in the best place to face the future."

It comes as reports claim that Glasgow City, South Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire and Inverclyde's Labour-led councils plan to join Aberdeen and Dumfries and Galloway councils in breaking away from the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla).

Cosla is the body which represents Scotland's 32 councils and the breakaways are expected to increase tension between Labour councils and the SNP ahead of the independence referendum.