Councils across south west Hertfordshire failed to collect more than £6 million of council tax in the latest tax year.

The figures revealed by the Daily Mail suggests nearly £900 million of council tax had gone uncollected in the UK.

On average, it meant out of 326 councils, the national average collection rate was 97 per cent.

Below is a breakdown of how each council in the south west Hertfordshire region performed. The councils we are focusing on are Watford, Hertsmere, Three Rivers, St Albans and Dacorum councils.

Watford Borough Council - £1.3million

Watford was one of the worst performing of the five councils.

Out of 326 councils, Watford was ranked 157th. It's collection rate was 97.74 per cent.

But the council put the numbers down to people not paying their council tax.

Elected mayor Peter Taylor, said: “We do not tolerate people refusing to pay their council tax. If necessary, we will take legal action to get the money that is owed to us.

“This is always a last resort and we will work with an individual who for whatever reason is left unable to pay their council tax before we take this step.

“Sometimes court action can take time but we have been clear that it is not acceptable to refuse to pay council tax in Watford.”

Three Rivers District Council - £842,000

Three Rivers collected the most council tax it was owed in the region.

It placed 36th out of 326 councils for its collection rate, which averages at 98.72 per cent.

But the council echoed the views of Mr Taylor, saying: “Three Rivers District Council do not tolerate people who refuse to pay their council tax and if necessary we will and do take legal action to recoup money that is owed to us.

“It is important to remember that this is a last resort and we will always work with an individual who for whatever reason is left unable to pay their council tax before we take this step.”

Hertsmere Borough Council - £1.4million

Out of 326 councils, Hertsmere ranked 136th, with its average collection rate being 97.96 per cent.

Cllr John Graham, portfolio holder for finance, said: “Hertsmere Borough Council works hard to ensure outstanding council tax debt is recovered.

“As of 31 May 2019, our officers have collected almost 99 per cent (98.82 per cent) of council tax for 2018/19 – higher than the national average - reducing the outstanding debt to approximately £900k.

“The figures quoted in the Daily Mail refer to in-year collections up to 31 March 2019. Hertsmere will continue to work beyond the tax year to recover outstanding council tax debt, exhausting all avenues available to us.”

St Albans City and District Council - £1.1million

St Albans performed the best in the region.

It ranked 13th in the country for its collection rate - 98.97 per cent.

Colm O’Callaghan, deputy chief executive (finance and legal) at St Albans Council said: “Cases of non-payment are very rare, but we do take robust action to recover any tax that we are owed.

“This can include, as a last resort, sending in enforcement agents to recover the debt after all other avenues have been exhausted.”

He explained there is a protocol for cases where people may genuinely struggle to make ends meet.

This includes support from Citizens Advice, intervening early to help people who have fallen behind in payments and allowing people to pay tax over 12 rather than 10 months. Residents on a low income can also claim council tax support.

Dacorum Council - £1.6million

Dacorum (Kings Langley) had a 98.27 per cent collection rate in the 2018/19 year, ranking as the 88th best performing council.

A council spokesperson said: “The council continues to collect the outstanding amounts after the year has ended, and to date has collected a further £250,000 of those areas.”

The council added it is collecting 99.5 per cent of all council tax within seven years of the charge being raised and takes “appropriate” recovery action against people not paying.

This includes asking employers to make direct deductions from wages or obtaining a charging order against the property.

The council continued: “We will make reasonable arrangements with residents who have fallen behind with their council tax payments, and would encourage anyone who is having difficulty paying to discuss this with the council tax team.”