Drastic public spending cuts will mean the axe for “some things that we genuinely value”, David Cameron has warned as he braced voters for painful decisions.

The prime minister said the Government would be “socially responsible” in finding massive savings across Whitehall but said it had a “duty” to cut back.

Writing in the Sunday Times, he compared Britain to a failing company and his Tory-Lib Dem coalition administration to new owners trying to make it profitable again.

Ministers are set for mounting tussles with the Treasury as they finalise cuts of up to 40% ahead of October’s announcement of the results of the spending review.

Mr Cameron spent some of the first week of the long Parliamentary holiday trying to convince voters at public meetings of the need for a severe squeeze on spending.

But in his article he warned: “Even with reform, the truth is there will be some things that we genuinely value that will have to go because of the legacy we have been left.

“I don’t like that any more than anyone else, but this is the reality of the situation we’re in and it’s the duty of this government to face up to it.

The PM concluded: “If we do all this - if we cut the obvious waste, attack the ingrained waste, stop doing things that don’t add value, if we are realistic about the things we can no longer afford and creative about raising revenue, we’ll be able to prioritise the things we really care about.

“Of course I can’t promise to put a ring of steel around every service and every job. But by taking a methodical approach to stripping away every pound of spending that doesn’t add much value, this spending review can help us minimise the impact of the cuts.”