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Or if it is, it can only be short-lived, and at the expense of the liberal culture it properly exists to renew. A state committed to renewing a liberal culture cannot be indifferent to the fate of institutions and forms of common life on which such a culture depends for its survival. I have argued that both social-democratic ideas of equality and neoliberal ideas of unrestricted market freedom, cut against the grain of deeply held popular sentiments of fairness, in which notions of merit, deserts and need are central.

Putnam’s Sons. 20. Various schemes are discussed in the Citizens’s income bulletin, particularly Nos. 18 (July 1994), 19 (February 1995) and 20 (July 1995). 21. , 1995, Making welfare work: reconstructing welfare for the millennium, London, Institute of Community Studies. 22. Not all forms of targeting involve means-testing. Some involve categorisation by other factors such as age or disability, and do not necessarily carry the moral hazards of means-testing. A comprehensive welfare reform of the sort we undoubtedly need must recognise that different forms of allocation of benefits are appropriate, depending on the shared social understanding of the goods concerned, and on the consequences of their mode of allocation.

They reinforce the denial of agency and the lack of mutuality and a sense of membership which are the most disabling features of the culture of dependency of the so-called ‘underclass’. The decisive objection to Basic Income schemes are therefore not fiscal but ethical. 23) They take no account of British people’s continuing attachment to the idea of deserts in the common culture of norms of fairness. Indeed they run counter to the common moral intuition that an unconditional guarantee of subsistence income, regardless of need or merit, is undeserved.

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