Torbay Council has put a freeze on non-essential spending to save money as it faces millions of pounds of extra costs for children’s care.
It is the second year in a row the council has imposed the restriction as it tries to balance it books.
Children’s services are on course to go £4.2m over-budget by the end of the year.
That would leave the council with an overall funding gap of £4m, so it is aiming to find extra savings and transfer cash from reserves to stay within its planned budget.
Although the number of cared-for children has remained stable at around 360, spending is being driven up by an increasing number of residential care placements.
The sector has seen costs rising, and complex cases can lead to bills of up to £10,000 a week.
The cost of agency staff to fill vacancies caused by a shortage of social workers is also adding to the overspend pressure.
An extra £4.4m was added to the children’s social care budget this year on top of £3m extra last year.
But that has not been enough to deal with the extra pressure.
Meanwhile the department is carrying out an improvement plan after an ‘inadequate’ rating by inspectors.
Details of the council’s financial position are outlined in a report to its overview and scrutiny committee which meets on Thursday.