Bovis has called on the Government to step up its attempts to support the housing market in a bid to ease the misery being felt in the sector.

The company said it had been forced to respond to the 'toughest period of trading' it had ever faced during the first six months of the year, with profits tumbling by 84pc to £9.5m.

As the drought in the mortgage market brought the housing sector to a standstill, Bovis slashed costs, cutting 40% of its staff, closing its eastern regional office and amalgamating functions between its northern and central offices. It aims to reduce costs by 20% this year.

Bovis, Britain’s fifth biggest house builder, has so far been able to avoid making write downs on the value of its landbank, and its average sales price and gross margin have reduced by just 4% and 2% respectively.

However, chief executive David Ritchie said the Government must now consider alternatives to unlock mortgage liquidity.

Financial Times, The Times