In the "debate" about welfare benefits, there's one point which is underweighted but so obvious that I'm embarrassed to mention it - that some form of welfare is beneficial not just to its recipients, but to capitalists.
But just as there's tax incidence, so there is benefit incidence; the benefits of benefits don't flow merely to their nominal recipients.
Housing benefit, for example, helps to sustain high rents and so could well be renamed landlords benefit.
Similarly, unemployment benefit helps capitalists in several ways.
One arises simply from the circular flow of income. Because "scroungers" spend their benefits, they are in effect a state subsidy to Lidl and pound shops.
You might object that this subsidy is paid out of others' taxes, which depress demand. This isn't wholly true. Those taxes don't just reduce others' spending, but their savings too. For this reason, welfare benefits are a form of balanced budget multiplier, which helps to support demand.
In this sense, there is a Malthusian case for welfare benefits. I refer not to the Malthus of the Essay on Population, but the Malthus who feared that economies would suffer from deficient demand and so said: "It is necessary that a country with great powers of production should possess a body of consumers who are not themselves engaged in production."(He was thinking of aristocrats rather than White Dee, but the economics are much the same.)
For this reason, benefits are a form of automatic stabilizer; insofar as benefit spending rises in recessions, they help reduce economic volatility. This is especially important if monetary policy lacks reliable efficacy because we're near the zero bound, or if fiscal policy can't be used counter-cyclically, say because governments can't see recessions coming.
It might be no accident that in the era of a big welfare state, economic volatility has been lower than it was in the 19th C, when we had a minimal welfare state: for example, the standard deviation of annual GDP growth was 2.5pp between 1831 and 1914, compared to 1.9pp since 1946.
Insofar as businesses require certainty if they are to invest, welfare states help to give it them.
To see some other benefits of benefits, imagine we didn't have them. We'd then have higher crime, and even starvation, neither of which are in capitalists' interests. But we'd also see: more violent opposition to redundancy plans; less geographical mobility because people would want to stay close to family and friends who could support them in hard times; and people being loath to move into potentially good but insecure jobs. In all these ways, we'd see less labour mobility. You can therefore regard a welfare state as a subsidy to the creative destruction which is necessary for higher productivity.
Now, in saying all this I don't mean to say that all welfare states are in capitalists' interests: these advantages of a welfare state must be traded off against the costs of higher taxes and - if benefits are high - a reduced labour supply. It's just that some type of welfare states - even ones which give "handouts" to "scroungers" might be in capitalists' interests.
This helps explain something. The most vocal opposition to "generous" welfare benefits comes not from the voices of capital, but from pub bores and comedy villain Mick McManus-types. The CBI - which normally yaps a lot - is relatively quiet. There's a reason for this.