A top consultancy firm has been employed by four district councils at the taxpayer’s expense to carry out an independent review into the future of local government, as the debate over a unitary authority in the county rolls on.

It has been revealed that Deloitte has been commissioned by Chiltern, South Bucks, Wycombe and Aylesbury Vale district councils to find the best option for the county’s future.

It comes after the councils rejected Bucks County Council’s offer to join them in preparing a “business case” for a single unitary authority, choosing instead to spend up to £200,000 on external management consultants, according to council leader Martin Tett, which he branded “regrettable”.

However, the district councils say this figure is "incorrect", but have not yet quoted the cost. 

In a statement, a spokesman for the four councils said: “We were approached in June by Buckinghamshire County Council to join with them in preparing a business case for a single unitary council for Buckinghamshire, but we felt that this didn’t go far enough.

“We have commissioned a broader review to create services which will stand the test of time. 

“We have shared information on finances and service delivery with Bucks County Council so that both pieces of work are based on the same data.

“Our review has no pre-determined outcome and is looking at all possible options.

“It focuses on finding an option that will strengthen local decision making, improve local services, save taxpayers’ money and keep our customers at the centre of everything we do.

“We understand that Bucks County Council will be publishing a report shortly on council structures.

“We welcome this input into the wider debate on the future of the delivery of public services in Bucks.”

The draft report is expected later this month and the final report will be published in early autumn.