David Cameron has appealed for voters in tomorrow'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, 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 tomorrow.
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.
Addressing students in Southampton, Miliband said: "We know where this Government's priorities lie: for the rich and powerful.
"We saw it in the Budget, we see it in their dealings with Rupert Murdoch.
"But these elections matter because Labour is campaigning for a very different set of priorities.
"Throughout the country, Labour is showing that we can make different choices, decisions which help people through these tough times.
"Different choices to create jobs, cut electricity bills, halt fare increases, tax bankers and halt the raid on pensioners' incomes."
In a letter to Lib Dem activists, Deputy Prime Minister Clegg wrote: "Every vote for the Liberal Democrats and every Liberal Democrat councillor elected is a step towards a more liberal country.
"Liberal Democrat councillors have a well-deserved reputation for dedication and commitment to their local communities.
"And our record on freezing council tax, protecting local libraries and giving pay rises for the lowest paid council workers shows the difference we make when we run local councils.
"Labour may choose to lie in what they tell people about our record in government, but I remain very proud of what we have achieved: raising the income tax threshold and cutting taxes for 23 million ordinary working people, implementing the Pupil Premium, creating record numbers of apprenticeships and delivering the 'triple lock' guarantee for pensions."