Central government wastes more money than councils do, Andy Burnham has said ahead of devolution talks where he will call for more powers on spending.

The Greater Manchester mayor described the ‘distrust’ of local government as ‘dangerous’ and called for more decisions on spending to be made by councils.

Speaking at the Manchester Art Gallery on Tuesday (June 21), he suggested that the city-region should have full control over its own budget in the same way that devolved administrations in the nations of Scotland and Wales do.

It comes as think tank the Institute for Government releases a report saying metro mayors should be given more power if levelling up is to be a success.

Mr Burnham was speaking at an event held by the think tank ahead of the next phase of devolution talks which he expects to start in earnest by next month.

Greater Manchester has been highlighted as a ‘trailblazer’ for devolution in the government’s levelling up white paper which was published earlier this year.

Among its 12 ‘missions’, the strategy commits to handing devolved parts of England more powers through metro mayors, bringing it in line with London.

Speaking at the Institute for Government event this week, Mr Burnham said local authorities should not have to compete against each other for funding.

He also argued against the government having to approve what money is spent on and said that councils should be trusted to spend cash instead.

The mayor referred to the recent five-year transport financial settlement worth £1bn which has been granted to Greater Manchester as an example.

He thanked the government for a ‘fair’ settlement – of which £81m will be spent on redeveloping Bury Interchange – but claimed the Prime Minister’s office commented on the location of bus stops during the bidding process.

He said: “Central government wastes more money than local government from what I’ve seen – and I’ve been in both now for a big chunk of time.

“They waste more money because they’re too far away.

“If you’re closer to something and you kind of have a feel for it, you understand what would be good spending and what would be bad spending.”

How Metro Mayors can help Level Up England, the Institute for Government paper published last week, warns that existing devolution arrangements hamstring the mayors and limit their ability to improve local economic and social outcomes – which is precisely what the government wants them to do.

The new report argues that England’s metro mayors – first elected five years ago – have demonstrated that devolution works. According to the report, the mayors have improved coordination and provided a strong voice for their regions, but a lack of real power means unrealistic expectations have been set for what metro mayors can achieve and what they can be held to account for.

The think tank argues that accelerating devolution also means overhauling the way the centre of government works and how it engages with all local leaders.

The Institute for Government report recommends:

Devolving full responsibility for functions such as skills, transport and (green) infrastructure.

Giving metro mayors long-term, flexible funding to allocate in line with local needs

Giving metro mayors the formal right to request any power that has been devolved elsewhere in England

The government launch a joint review of its relations with metro mayors and publish a framework for consultation, co-operation and dispute resolution between government departments and the mayors

The government commit not to reverse or amend the terms of devolution without local consent

Institute for Government senior fellow Akash Paun, who authored the report, said: “Metro mayors have only existed for a few years, but mayors like Andy Burnham, Steve Rotheram and Ben Houchen have already brought benefits to the places they represent and have the potential to do far more.

“Ministers should now live up to their commitment to deeper devolution and empower the mayors to lead the levelling up of their regions.”