What is social policy? Why is it important to you? Social policy is the means by which we improve the welfare and well-being of society. It determines how we support and care for disadvantaged people, who educates our children, why some countries have free healthcare, when people receive benefits, and what we should do about poverty, homelessness, ill-health and a multitude of other social problems and inequalities.This short but systematic introductory text offers a clear and concise overview of the 'five pillars' of social policy: social security, employment, education, health, housing. Specifically designed for students who are new to the study of social policy, this short guide: outlines the basics of social policy; explains key policy goals and how welfare is delivered; uses case studies from around the world to illustrate key debates and explore policy dilemmas; highlights key terms and concepts throughout; and, provides readers with quick reference summaries and guides to further reading. Whether starting a degree in social policy or studying a single module in the subject at any level, this clear and accessible guide, written by experienced authors and teachers, is indispensable reading.