Millions of households could see their council tax bill increased by almost 4%, after it was revealed nine out of 10 local authorities are planning to increase the charge.

A quarter of the 152 top councils in England were surveyed and it was found that 95% intend to increase bills for 2017/2018 by between 3.9% and 3.99% – the maximum increase allowed without a referendum. The expected increases follow an average 3.1% rise this year, the largest since 2008/2009 and include a 2% “precept” introduced by former chancellor George Osborne last year to pay for care for the elderly and disabled.

The research carried out by Local Government Chronicle found that a 4% hike would increase the average tax on a Band D property by £61 to £1,591. However actual rises are likely to be somewhat smaller as a portion of the bill is taken up by other authorities with lower maximum increase levels.

LGC editor Nick Golding said the increases are not out of choice and that councils “do not enjoy asking residents to pay more”. “As LGC’s Council Tax Tracker has found, most feel they have no other choice if they are to continue to balance the books after six years of austerity and with growing demand for social care” he added. Even with the extra money raised through council tax, many places will not be able to avoid cutting services. Councils are hoping next week’s local government finance settlement will bring some relief in the form of extra funding for these vital services.”

Only one top-tier council surveyed by the LGC, Stoke-on-Trent, indicated that it was not planning to make full use of the social care precept, limiting the total rise to 3%. Kensington & Chelsea, in west London, said it would freeze the non-precept part of the bill, resulting in an overall increase of 2%.

No council said it would cut its bills in 2017/18.