National housebuilder Barratt says its average private house sales in the past six months were 42.9% below the level of a year ago.

The company also confirmed extensive job losses at it seeks to mitigate the effects of the housing slowdown.

It is closing two divisions, merging a further eight divisions into four and shedding about 1,200 jobs – which will save £40m annually.

“In terms of housing volumes, margins and debt, we have delivered a satisfactory performance in an intensely difficult market,” said Mark Clare, group chief executive.

“By enhancing our sales capability, reducing our costs, and agreeing a new financial package, we have now substantially improved our competitive position and are better placed to deal with what will be a very challenging period ahead.”