How social security works is an introduction to the much-misunderstood system of benefits in Britain. The book is an accessible, broadly based and sometimes controversial text which can help readers to make sense of the system in practice. It explains the guiding principles, outlines the social context, considers the development and political dimensions of benefits, and reviews how the system operates now. There are detailed discussions of the types of benefit, and the contingencies covered by the benefits system.Paul Spicker examines whether the system offers value for money, how it could be simplified and how it can be improved. The book will be useful to students on undergraduate and professional courses, but beyond that it will appeal to policy makers, practitioners and a broader general readership.