Ms. McLaughlin was responding to new research from the Ulster University Economic Policy centre that showed the North of Ireland has a lower disabled employment rate than Great Britain and the widest gap between disabled and non-disabled people.
Said the Foyle MLA: “People with disabilities face significant barriers in entering the labour market and are much more likely to be economically inactive than non-disabled people.
“Disabled people are also disproportionately affected by the current cost-of-living crisis, and many continue to find it difficult to find and keep a job for a variety of factors.
“It’s simply unconscionable that faced with a lower disabled employment rate than any UK region and a wider employment gap, there does not seem to be the requisite urgency in our government to address these challenges.
“Addressing this employment gap is going to require cross-cutting action from right across our departments, supported by an adequate and fully resourced Disability Strategy that includes a comprehensive and strategic plan of action to narrow this gap.
“As this research has indicated, if we set ourselves the ambition to match today’s UK disability rate by 2031, we would move tens of thousands of people into work and generate hundreds of millions of pounds into the benefits as well as lower the rate of relative poverty among disabled people to its lowest level ever.
“The truth is we need an Executive back up and running to get to grips with this challenge.
“As it stands, the DUP is putting their own selfish interests before the needs of people with disabilities.
“The DUP should get back into government so we can coordinate an Executive-wide approach to this challenge including pursuing a shared commitment to tackle the myriad of factors impacting the disabled employment gap including expanding accessibility provisions, educating employers and improving educational attainment.”