SOCIAL services managers at Kirklees Council have been ordered to find huge cost savings in a bid to head off a projected £4.9m overspend.
Town hall leader Clr Kath Pinnock pledged residents would not face a big rise in council tax to cover the gap.
The social care budget is plunging into the red because of unprecedented demand.
The Examiner revealed last month how shortages of foster parents on the books are forcing officials to place children through high-cost agencies instead.
Pressures are also mounting because people are living to an older age.
Clr Pinnock said: "We are looking at options for containing the overspend, as it is unacceptable to seek to cover this by a large council tax rise next year and in any case it would be above Government capping levels.
"This is not just a social services issue, as measures to contain any overspend will inevitably impact on other budgets and other services."
In Birmingham the projected social services deficit is £7.6m, while in Oldham it is £2.7m and in North Tyneside £4.5m.
Clr Pinnock said the council would be looking to see where costs could be reduced or income increased.
She said she wanted this done without affecting the level of services to those with the greatest need for care.
"The need to contain the social services budget within the limits set by the council will inevitably mean that the council has to have a serious look at the level and quantity of services provided," said Clr Pinnock.
She said much of the rising demand could not have been predicted.
"There are many aspects over which the council has little, if any influence.
"For example, more children are being referred from the courts for foster care," she said.
The council leader said the increased demand covered all aspects of social services including children and families, adult services, older people's services and mental health care.
Local councils are lobbying the Government on the problems and looking for help.
Clr Pinnock said: "Hopefully that will result in the Government accepting the clear case for increased funding.
"But that is unlikely to assist with the immediate and significant budget issues which we will be addressing in the coming weeks."