David Cameron has promised that people will have more money in their pockets within "just a few years" if they tough out the Government's massive spending cuts.
Amid the first signs of a backlash against coalition plans, the Prime Minister insisted there was no responsible alternative to bringing down the deficit immediately.
In his keynote speech to the Conservative Party conference, his first as prime minister, he said he knew "how anxious" people were, adding: "I wish there was another way. I wish there was an easier way. But I tell you, there is no other responsible way."
Mr Cameron said the cuts - averaging 25 per cent per department over four years - would be even worse if the deficit was not tackled quickly and sought to convince voters they would be able to see the benefits before the next general election.
"I promise you that if we pull together to deal with these debts today, then just a few years down the line the rewards will be felt by everyone in our country," he said.
Mr Cameron made only a passing reference to the child benefit row which has overshadowed the Tories' gathering in Birmingham this week, but insisted the better off had to play their part in reducing the country's record deficit.
"I'm not saying this is going to be easy, as we've seen with child benefit this week," he said.
"But it's fair that those with broader shoulders should bear a greater load, and I think it's time for a new conversation about what fairness really means."