David Cameron has appealed for voters in Thursday's crunch elections not to punish the Tories for Britain's economic woes.
The Prime Minister urged people to focus on local rather than national issues in the wake of a turbulent spell for the coalition.
As parties mounted a final push before the polls open, Ed Miliband promised that Labour would "stand up for the many" rather than the "rich and powerful".
Meanwhile, Nick Clegg said every Liberal Democrat councillor elected was a "step towards a more liberal country".
Speaking to ITV News in the garden of 10 Downing Street, Mr Cameron said: "I recognise it's a difficult time for families, it's a tough time for families," he said.
"I just hope that people will look at these elections and recognise it's about electing your local council - who is going to keep the council tax down, who's going to provide value for money, who's going to look after your area?"
Some 180 councils in England, Scotland and Wales are holding contests for all or some of their seats.
Most were last up for grabs in 2008 - when the Conservatives made significant gains and Labour were hit hard.
Conservative Boris Johnson is battling against Labour's Ken Livingstone to be re-elected as London Mayor.
And referendums are being held on whether to introduce mayors in a series of major cities.