The results, published by the Committee on Standards in Public Life, show a general decline in the public’s faith in politicians and civil servants.
The committee also announced it is to hold an inquiry into accountability and transparency in London and local government.
The third biennial survey of public attitudes on standards of conduct in public life found that 45% of respondents trusted local councillors to tell the truth compared to 27% for government ministers and 26% for MPs in general. The figures for councillors show a steady rise from the previous two surveys in 2006 (43%) and 2004 (41%).
However, trust in senior council managers remains stubbornly low with just 35% of respondents saying they trusted them - a 1% fall on the previous survey in 2006. Top civil servants are trusted by 39% of the public.
Announcing the inquiry, Sir Christopher Kelly, chair of the committee, said: “As well as looking at the mayoral system in London, we will be looking at the other 12 directly elected mayoral models, the cabinet system within some local councils and the committee structure found in others."
Sir Christopher said the committee was holding the inquiry to examine how decisions as made and office holders held to account eight years after the 2000 Local Government Act changed governance structures in councils.
He also claimed the inquiry would be pertinent with ministers keen to increase the number of councils led by elected mayors.