Steven Broomhead is chief executive of Warrington Borough Council and writes a regular column for the Warrington Guardian.

PEOPLE’s concern and anxieties about the significant rise in the cost of living are being tempered by the feeling for the Ukraine people who are facing abhorrent tragedies.

The Warrington Support for Peace campaign and the generous activities of charitable support groups demonstrate the generosity of the town – even if we are also starting to face financial hardship ourselves.

The eye-watering fuel prices, the significant rise in wholesale energy prices and the rising cost of the weekly shop all fade into insignificance given the Ukraine situation.

Last week I heard the phrase 'there are always people worse off than us' frequently.

For most things, higher prices mean lower demand. However when it’s the cost of life’s essentials, this doesn’t hold firm. Economists are now seriously starting to consider if this is the start of a recession – or in the words last week of the Chancellor, ‘significant economic uncertainty’.

It’s probably too early to judge, but one Bank of England forecast is seven per cent inflation – the highest since the 1980’s. We also know that our town’s diverse economy has over the years dealt well with economic challenges.

Are we responding to the high prices by cutting consumption? For instance, in May 2020 petrol prices were £1.05 a litre, now we are at approximately £1.70 per litre with the prediction of further rises.

Should we use the car less and ease off the accelerator? It’s easy to say and more difficult to do, particularly with more of us returning to the workplace.

Similarly, the advice to turn down the thermostat at home in response to the 60 per cent rise in energy costs presents challenges. Some of us do not have the luxury of such fine tuning and there is evidence that rising energy prices hit the poorest the hardest as they spend a greater proportion of their income on energy. It’s positive that the government is increasing support to assist consumer energy costs.

Increased energy costs even drive an increase in food costs as fertilisers have been made using energy intensive production.

A consequence of Covid has been a relative shift away from public transport and private transport. The way to get around has become less energy efficient. Hopefully for us, this will change soon with the significant energy efficient investments being made by our local bus company.

Despite the fact that the good Covid recovery we were seeing in the town, we are now running up the energy and price rise buffers. Perhaps it’s time to bring back the Price Commission which existed in the 1970’s as a government mechanism to control prices?

Warringtonians are optimists both for our communities and also for the peaceful solutions for the people of Ukraine. There are many organisation and individuals in the town ready and willing to help. We await the practical advice and guidance from government on how we can provide Ukraine refugees a warm Warrington welcome.