People aren't dying quickly enough for Birmingham City Council to be able to balance its books.

A #1.2 million shortfall in income from burial and cremation services is the consequence of a healthier population and a sharp increase in life expectancy, the council cabinet has heard. The shortfall is part of a projected #7.6 million overspend for all council services during 2007/08.

Deputy council leader Paul Tilsley said Birmingham was caught in a "pincer movement".

People were living longer, which was good, but there was a direct impact on council finances. Coun Tilsley (Lib Dem Sheldon) added: "This is something that I am sure we can welcome because people are enjoying a better quality of life in Birmingham."

A large proportion of the council's financial difficulties stems from an increase in the number of children being taken into care by social services – a figure that has been rising steadily for several years.

The budget for looked after children is on course to be overspent by #3.5 million by the end of the year.

Les Lawrence, cabinet member for children, young people and families, said the number of young people in care had risen by more than 100 in a year to stand at 2,153. There was no way of predicting further increases which ere largely the result of social trends, he added.

Coun Lawrence (Con Northfield) said: "There is an inexorable increase in the number of children and young people coming into the care of the council. I wish it were not so, but it is.

"I defy anyone to fix a budget to cope with this."

A #269,000 overspend in the leisure, sport and culture budget is being blamed on the wet summer, which hit income from the city's municipal golf courses.

Void units at the Indoor Market will cost the council #120,000 in lost income.

An urgent plea to get the finances back on track was issued by Alistair Dow, head of the scrutiny section.

Coun Dow (Lib Dem Selly Oak) pointed out that officials still had to identify a further #30 million of efficiency savings, or risk an even higher overspend by the close of the financial year.