Steven Broomhead is chief executive of Warrington Borough Council and writes a regular column

“We are getting back to normal now” was a dominant theme of conversations I had at the weekend.

I respectfully had to disagree for two main reasons. We will have to live with Covid for a number of months, if not a few years and the gradual release of lockdown will mean a very different town than it was in mid-March.

Although I am a natural optimist, I fear increased job insecurity with a need for significant government intervention to deliver more employment/training opportunities, particularly for young people.

The main sector in our town that will face the most challenges are retail (11,000 jobs), food and drink (6,000 jobs), accommodation (1200 jobs), sport and leisure (1500 jobs), personal services – hairdressing, beauty therapy, (1,000 jobs).

Of these 20,500 jobs which make up 30% of the total jobs in the town, approximately 70% of them have been subject to furlough over the past three months and the question is will there be a bounce back for people to return to their jobs? At this stage the answer is uncertain.

Radical new approaches will be needed, a cut in VAT to stimulate consumption should could be welcome but may only be helpful marginal as households are unlikely to spend if they are worried about their future.

Further cuts in interest rates or taxes will not stimulate consumer spend if people are concerned with their medium term income prospects.

There is likely to be a need to provide more generous out of work benefits and to make significant investment in skills and training. Of course this will be difficult as government finds itself with lower tax receipts, a significant bill for its support to the economy so far and increased borrowing. In many ways the government’s approach to safeguarding the economy has mirrored the derided Corbyn Election Manifesto in December 2019.

There has been significant state intervention without nationalisation.

At the town level we will need to provide a clear Recovery Plan developed by the private, public and voluntary sector that meets with the government’s support policies.

This will require strong and fair leadership and a clear set of pragmatic actions, not one just based on wishful strategies. This is the priority which is the one to focus on over the next few months as we cautiously move out of hibernation.