David Cameron: Hard decisions on economy 'paying off'

image captionMr Cameron said there were positive signs but much more left to do

David Cameron has insisted the difficult decisions taken in the past three years are "beginning to pay off".

Speaking ahead of the Tory conference on Sunday, the prime minister said the economy had come through a tough period and was on the "right track".

He said a Conservative-only government after the next election would "finish the job", while Labour threatened to "tax business out of existence".

But he acknowledged he had to do more to woo back wavering voters from UKIP.

The Conservatives are going into their annual four-day conference in Manchester in upbeat mood on the back of positive signs about the recovery and improved poll ratings.

'Clear choice'

Chancellor George Osborne says the economy has "turned a corner", pointing to stronger-than-expected growth figures in recent months, increasing business confidence and an improved picture for manufacturing and exports.

He said this vindicated the government's economic strategy and disproved those who had called for a slower pace of spending cuts and tax rises.

However, the government is also under pressure to do more to help those struggling with the cost of living - in particular energy, petrol and transport costs - amid evidence that most families are yet to feel the financial benefits of any upturn.

"We are on the right track. We are seeing more jobs, more new businesses, we're beginning to see things moving again," Mr Cameron told the BBC.

He said there would be a "clear choice" at the next election between his party's record on the economy and Labour's programme.

"Do you want to stick with us, on the right track - delivering an economy for hardworking people? Or do you want to put all of that at risk with Ed Miliband and his crazy plans to tax business out of existence? That'll be the choice."

'Finish the job'

Mr Cameron cited the government's Help to Buy Scheme - where the state guarantees mortgages for couples able to put down a 5% deposit - as evidence the government backed those on middle incomes and supported aspiration.

"It has been a tough three years. We have had to make very difficult decisions.

"I think people are beginning to see these difficult decisions are beginning to pay off and the country's coming through it.

"I think as we make that argument it will be very simple - do you want to stay on that track - 'continue to sort things out, just give me the tools and I'll finish the job' - or do you want to put that at risk. That will be the argument at the next election."

But Mr Cameron acknowledged that he had to "do more to win people over who have drifted over to other parties", including UKIP.

He said the Tories were the only party offering a "proper choice" over Europe with the pledge to renegotiate the terms of membership and put that to a referendum.