Parsing - good luck with ATOS, by the sounds of things you might need it.
A friend of dh's was called in by ATOS. First appointment they gave him was cancelled as the assessor was off sick - not that they bothered telling our friend until he turned up (because obviously the time of someone on benefits is unimportant, equally so the train fare). Second one they gave was the day of his Father's funeral. Next one would have involved paying full peak-time fares so friend asked if they could move it to later in the day. Then they sent him one for a Sunday (when their offices aren't open)...
One MNer's DH was sent for a single shift at a factory, perfectly timed so the agency got the first-level bonus (not the in-work-for-6-months bonus).
We're also paying all the DWP staff handling their end of the scheme. I've been waiting more than 6 months for a 20 min ATOS medical assessment which might award me no ESA or full Support Group ESA, both of which mean no JobCentre involvement.
In that time, I've had some pipsqueak of a JobCentre staffer try to summon me for regular interviews so he can "advise" me, and send me to yet more agencies to teach me to read, add up and write a CV (particularly funny given my professional history). I told him to stop leeching off the taxpayer creating work for himself, and wait for the ATOS assessment.
And yes, people blame the unemployed all the time - calling them scroungers, lazy, layabouts, suggesting unemployment is a personal failing rather than the result of there not being enough jobs to go round.
It's not a great statistic, admittedly, but no-one's claiming it is and the people involved are those that have been unemployed for 12 months or more i.e. people who need extra help. 3.5% is better than no-one at all... plus we don't pay on the contract if the job-finding agencies fail to get the full six months. Don't think anyone's blaming the unemployed are they?
That's £435m down the drain. Strikes me the scroungers and layabouts we hear so much about are actually the contractors. Or, just possibly, that joblessness is somehow related to the economy being a bit shit at the moment and not, actually, a personal failing of individuals who are 'Just Not Trying Hard Enough'.
What are the chances of the government being honest and admitting unemployment is what happens in a recession (two recessions so far in three years and another one looming) and it's not actually the fault of the unemployed if there are too few jobs?