To achieve a growth in practice-focused research, social care requires a solid infrastructure including a skilled research workforce, funding and a framework of national, strategic priorities. This article concerns practitioner researchers and developing the skills and support to enable practitioners to become active researchers within social care practice. It reports on findings from a study to develop a better understanding of the challenges of building capacity to undertake social care research in the South of England and the opportunities for building research engagement and capacity within local authorities (LAs) to include practitioner-led research. A qualitative approach was undertaken. Participants were practitioners working in LA social service departments. Participants completed an online questionnaire (n = 22), with a subsample (n = 6) interviewed. A semi-structured interview schedule collected positive and negative views of research experiences and of using research evidence. Individual-level and organisational research barriers were extracted as themes from the data and are described. The authors then discuss areas where practical ground level initiatives could be focused that might assist in developing a more positive research environment within social care organisations employing social workers and other practitioners.