David Cameron has admitted he needs to "prove" himself to voters and insisted he understands the message from the local elections "loud and clear".
The Prime Minister said excuses about mid-term blues "aren't enough" to explain the party's dire performance at the polls. Echoing Chancellor George Osborne, he pledged to "focus on what matters".
Cameron also promised to do more to help hard-working people who "want to get on and play by the rules".
In an article for The Telegraph, he wrote: "My reaction to last week's local election results is straightforward: I get the message, loud and clear.
"I know that the familiar excuses - low turnout, mid term blues - aren't enough. Even the difficulties of our economic situation and the tough but necessary decisions the Government has had to take cannot fully explain the results."
He added: "The message people are sending is this: focus on what matters, deliver what you promise - and prove yourself in the process. I get it."
Cameron said voters wanted to know the coalition Government was "not just a bunch of accountants".
He added: "When people think about the economy they don't see it through the dry numbers of the deficit figures, trade balances or inflation forecasts - but instead the things that make the difference between a life that's worth living and a daily grind that drags them down."
It comes after Mr Osborne signalled the Government will stall flashpoint Lords reforms plans as the Conservatives attempt to halt the increasingly bitter public attacks from their own ranks. The Chancellor vowed ministers would "focus on the things that really matter" and insisted that introducing elections for peers was not a "priority".
Tory MPs and peers queued up to heap criticism on the party's high command after a string of bungles that culminated in a dire election performance. Mr Osborne dismissed the most vocal of those, Nadine Dorries, as a serial rebel after she warned that David Cameron could be ousted by Christmas.
Respected veteran Lord Ryder, John Major's former chief whip, warned the PM he "won't be the master of his own destiny for very much longer" if he fails to "take a grip".
While Tory Brian Binley said the verdict at the ballot box was a "major setback" for the party and urged Prime Minister David Cameron to "wake up and smell the coffee".
Shadow cabinet office minister Michael Dugher said Cameron was "showing increasing signs of having a bunker mentality."
"After two years in Downing Street, with one million young people out of work and an economy in recession, he says the lesson is that he needs to put in some 'hard work'. Only this out-of-touch Prime Minister would have taken 730 days to figure that out.
"Cameron thinks the message from the local elections is that he should plough on with his policies regardless. The problem is not the Government's spin, it's Cameron and Osborne's recession. "
Former minister Tim Yeo insisted it was "not too late" to push highly divisive House of Lords reform to the "bottom of the queue" as the coalition finalises it's legislative programme for next week's Queen's speech.
But Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg signalled he was determined to press ahead ahead with the changes.
Writing in the Guardian he said his party's radicalism was needed "as much as ever" and called on the coalition to "get on" with the reforms rather than becoming "tied up in knots in Westminster" over the issue.
"The first two years of the coalition were a rescue mission for the economy. The second half has to be about reform," he wrote.
Suggested For You
Get top stories and blog posts emailed to me each day. Newsletters may offer personalized content or advertisements. Learn more