The profit margin and forward orders at housebuilder Bellway have slumped to half last year’s levels, according to the trading update it issued last week

The company blamed heavy discounting and a greater proportion of social housing sales for a fall in margins from 18.1%.

Forward orders at 31 January 2009 were £296m, compared with £580m at the same time in 2008. It also raised the prospect of further land writedowns when it reports its half-year results on 31 March.