Prime Minister David Cameron today insisted there was "light at the end of the tunnel" if his Government pushed through drastic spending cuts, with the prospect of a stronger economy as a result.
He said the public needed to know there was "a prize at the end of this", and warned failure to tackle the deficit now could lead to "completely drastic" cuts, costing even more jobs.
Mr Cameron was speaking as he visited the West Midlands for a PM Direct meeting aimed at persuading the public of the Government's case for the spending squeeze.
He told Ed Doolan on BBC WM radio: "We have to get the deficit under control because the deficit is sapping confidence from the British economy, it's building debts for our children, it's adding to the debt burden."
The Prime Minister went on: "We have got to demonstrate there's a light at the end of the tunnel. There will be a stronger, better, well balanced British economy.
"I want Britain to be a great success story of this decade.
"People need to know there's a prize at the end of this, which is a successful decade for Britain, which is what I'm trying to deliver."
But he warned: "It will be difficult and that's one of the reasons for doing public meetings and trying to talk people through it.
"I think people do understand the basic proposition, which is we are living beyond our means. We are spending too much and taxing too little and building up our debts."
Quizzed over public sector job cuts, Mr Cameron said: "If we don't deal with the deficit, of course you could keep some more people in public sector employment for a little bit longer but the end result would be a loss of confidence, a loss of growth and an economy that doesn't work."
That risked putting the UK in the position of countries such as Greece, he added.
"The cuts then are completely drastic and violent and you lose more people their jobs," said Mr Cameron.
The Prime Minister's comments came after he and his Liberal Democrat Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg thanked Cabinet ministers today for their commitment to the coalition during an "intense and at times tough" first 12 weeks.
In a letter to colleagues, the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister said that as departments made "vital negotiations" with the Treasury, every spending decision should ensure more power was handed to local people.
They emphasised that the new administration "unlike previous governments, would govern for the long term".
The pair wrote: "Whatever the options on the table, whatever the decision to be made, the same questions must be asked: will it put more power in people's hands? And will it equip Britain for long-term success?"
Mr Cameron was asked about Jobcentres being banned from advertising jobs in the sex industry.
Pressed on whether the Government should in fact support all legal types of employment, the Prime Minister said: "I think this was a good decision.
"It was something that the coalition talked about and thought about properly before announcing. I don't think it's right that Jobcentres are advertising these sorts of jobs."
He added: "No one wants a recovery based on the sorts of jobs you're talking about."
Mr Cameron also defended Education Secretary Michael Gove, who was forced to apologise to the Commons after publishing an error-strewn list of scrapped school building projects.
The £55 billion Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme was axed last month amid much controversy.
He said: "There was a mistake that was made, Michael apologised. I think it's good when a minister makes a mistake they come forward and apologise, and he did that very quickly."
The BSF cuts were necessary due to Labour's mismanagement of the economy, he added.
"Because we're not cutting capital spending any further, unlike the 50% cut that Labour put in place, there will be extra school building programmes in time," he said.
"I completely understand people's disappointment and even anger that something they thought they were going to get they're not going to get but Labour shouldn't have led them up the garden path in the totally disgraceful way they did."
During a public question and answer session in Birmingham, Mr Cameron said scrapping the UK Film Council would not "harm" British films.
Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt last week announced that the organisation, set up by Labour to develop and promote the film industry, would be axed.
"We made a decision last week about the British Film Council," Mr Cameron said.
"It spends a lot of money from the Lottery supporting films but it is a middle organisation.
"The money's still going to come from the Lottery, it's still going to go to the films. It's the films we want to support, not a quango - so the quango has to go.
"It's a tough decision - some people will lose their jobs, it's an organisation that doesn't exist any more - but it actually doesn't harm what we want to see, which is good, well-funded British films."
Mr Cameron said that during the Government's public spending review, there would be "difficult decisions in the arts and elsewhere".
Some arts bodies are "very top heavy, with very big salaries", he said.
Ministers need to ensure that the "money actually goes to the museum and goes to the gallery and goes to the theatre - rather than the Arts Council or the Film Council or whatever".
Arts Council England has said it will have to implement £23 million in cuts after its 2010-11 budget went down from £468 million to £445 million.