SOCIAL services in Torfaen face savage cutbacks in a bid to balance a projected £2 million overspend.

As well as cuts in services, money could be found from other areas.

But the executive member for social services, councillor Gwilliam Evans, admitted the budget crisis meant people would be denied services.

Letters have been sent to managers, asking them to cut spending in all departments.

The letter states: "We have all had to put the brakes on expenditure over the last month or so, awaiting an opportunity to get political decisions about service changes to make us sustainable."

Councillors have drawn up a list of money-saving options to be presented to the council's cabinet committee on Tuesday.

According to director of social services Gary Birch, the overspend was due to a rise in demand for services. Council figures show how numbers of people needing help have increased since 2001:

* Children in care up by 30%.

* Older people and people with a disability needing help to live at home up by 30%.

* Older people needing care in a nursing home up by 40%.

* People with a mental health problem needing care in a nursing home up by 23%.

Mr Birch said: "Increases like these are putting a huge strain upon social services budgets all over the UK.

"An ageing population combined with an increase in hospital discharges inevitably means more work for us.

"Changes in family and community stability have also resulted in an increase in the number of vulnerable children who need care."

A council spokesman said improvements were expected over the next two years as extra money pledged by the National Assembly should materialise.

The Assembly has already announced a three-year £230 million investment plan for Social Services in Wales, which covers the current year, 2004/5, and 2005/6, but exactly how much will be made available to Torfaen over that period is yet to be announced.

The council is concerned that not enough of the money will be made available to bolster the £26.4 million social services budget for this financial year and plug some or all of the projected £2 million deficit.