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The 1996 Community Care (Direct Payments) Act came into force on 1 April 1997, empowering social services departments to make cash payments to some service users in lieu of direct service provision. "Social Work and Direct Payments" guides readers through the issues at stake in this fundamental area of practice. The book summarises and builds on current knowledge and research about direct payments in the UK and considers developments in other European countries. It identifies good practice in the area and explores the implications of direct payments, both for service users and for social work staff. "Social Work and Direct Payments" provides a comprehensive introduction to this rapidly expanding area of social care by: reviewing the history of direct payments and charting the pace of implementation; exploring the experiences of different user groups and the relevance of issues such as ethnicity and sexuality; examining the advantages and limitations of direct payments; reviewing the practical issues which managing direct payments raises; and outlining further useful resources. "Social Work and Direct Payments" should be valuable for social work students, frontline practitioners and those under taking post-qualifying training. It will also be of interest to social services departments that have implemented direct payment schemes or are planning to do so and to organisations of disabled people.