Some interesting reading...
UK benefits for low-income workers (and the unemployed) do indeed seem higher than in many other EU countries.
An issue is that the way the system works at the moment in the UK is that you don't have to have worked or paid into it before being entitled to benefits.
That can indeed encourage scroungers (in the sense of making little effort to actually find work), both amongst UK nationals and those from other EU countries.
Although I believe that the situation has evolved, unemployment and other social benefits can add up to 80% of previous income. That's laudable for those in genuine difficulty while actively seeking ways of becoming financially more independent, but some may feel quite happy not bothering when the incentive is only 20% more for actually getting up every morning to do what may be less entertaining than playing video games. In Ireland, people are actually better off not bothering.
In terms of non-UK EU citizens, the now-scrapped February deal with the EU (posted further up somewhere) addressed those issues (one for a 7-year period) and was set to be adopted.
If the UK had a system in which people had to have worked and paid contributions in order to be entitled to some of the extra benefits, plus more active schemes to get people back into work, then the situation might be different.
Out of the EU, there may be ways of doing so for non-UK citizens.... but then who's going to do the unpleasant jobs that keep the economy running?
Ease of Access to Unemployment Benefit in the EU15
10. There is a significant difference between the UK and the rest of the EU15 in the accessibility of unemployment benefit. In other countries unemployment benefit is conditional on social insurance contributions and the amount paid out is linked to previous earnings. Moreover, the length of time that unemployment benefit can be claimed is linked to the length of time previously in work.
11. For example in every other EU15 country an individual can only claim unemployment benefit when they have worked for a specific amount of time and thus contributed to the system or made a certain number of social security payments. This ranges from 4 months in France to one year in many countries, including Austria, Denmark, Germany, Italy, and Spain. In Portugal an individual has to have worked for at least 450 days in the previous 24 months. All other countries require a certain number of payments or that a certain number of days/weeks/months be worked before an individual qualifies for unemployment benefit. The level of benefit paid is generally linked to previous earnings and often capped at an upper limit – only in Ireland and Finland is unemployment benefit paid at a flat rate. Moreover, in all countries except Belgium, unemployment benefit is paid for a period of time related to the amount of time previously spent in employment or it is capped for a period ranging from a few months to a maximum of 38 months in the Netherlands; it is capped at two years in Denmark, France, Portugal and Spain. In Belgium it can be claimed for an indeterminate period of time.http://www.migrationwatchuk.org/briefing-paper/284