Focusing on the enormous organisational and cultural changes that local authority social services have undergone since the 1990 NHS and Community Care Act, this volume provides an overview of the structure and function of social care at practice, management and policy levels. It contains contributions from leading academics, researchers and practitioners in the UK, and also includes chapters on the experiences across the United Kingdom and abroad. The contributors examine the impact and effectiveness of key shifts in:the weighting of responsibility of central and local governmentwho the purchasers and providers of social care arethe interaction between social services and other agenciesthe relationship between voluntary and statutory sectorsthe involvement of users and carers in service design and provision.They assess the significance of the breakdown of the traditional distinctions and roles underlying social care, and lay the foundations for effective and coordinated future policy, practice and research. With the publication of the Labour Government's White Paper Modernising Social Services, the future of social care is set for yet more upheaval. This volume will provide an indispensable overview of the evolution and destiny of local authority social services for students, practitioners and managers.