No, Tom (your original question). That’s not socialism. Socialism is a more demanding ideology that requires equalisation of ownership and power, not just redistribution of income. But it would be a start, and it represents a basic vision of a decent society equally accessible to left and right. There seems little doubt that we are in the middle of a moral panic about so-called benefits dependency culture, and both this debate, and the earlier one about security of tenure are symptoms of this. This moral panic reaches its most despicable level (to date) in the discussion of the recent horrendous fake kidnap case in Yorkshire, where straightforward lies have been retailed about both the family and the friends and neighbours, many of whom, including the mother’s now absent partner, are or were in full-time employment. This moral panic represents a displacement activity by a Government and middle class still demonstrably in a state of radical denial about the unsustainability of the postindustrial economic model this country depends on, and about the myth (relevant to this social housing site) of asset-based wealth, as though you could have assets (as opposed to productive activity) that created value other than by being in short supply. I don’t want to argue about the details, apart from raising a tired groan at that old canard about “many young women who get pregnant to get a home”; as both a former housing adviser and a former Council tenants’ rep, I have spoken in detail to hundreds of single parents in both a professional casework and an informal tenant’s campaigning context, and I never met a single one who made me suspect they got pregnant in order to jump the queue. I met quite a few who had made ill-advised or ill-judged decisions about their life plans, and who thought that motherhood would give their life a meaning and dignity that a dead-end job in a shop or burger bar on the under-25 minimum wage could never supply, but that’s not the same thing at all. But rather than quibble anecdotally about the imagined fecklessness of social housing residents, we should be here, on a professional social housing site, resisting the moral panic and reminding people of some of the basic principles of housing. Decent, affordable, secure housing is not a privilege, or a reward; nor is it a tool to be used – a carrot or a stick – in some drivelling (“incentivisation”) piece of middle class social engineering. Such housing is what makes civil society possible in the first place. It is what enables people to make plans and take responsibility, and to engage with each other as equals in the democratic process (equals not necessarily of wealth, but equals of status and value). The job of benefits – from our point of view; other websites like the Daily Mail or the BBC’s “Have Your say” can argue about whatever they like – is not to distinguish between the imagined deserving and undeserving; it is to make possible that vision of a decent as opposed to barbarian society.