HOUSEBUILDER Bellway has hailed hundreds of new homes for Scotland after “bumper” results.

It unveiled record house sales and the return of dividend payouts but also revealed another £20 million charge to deal with legacy cladding issues on apartment blocks.

Bellway completed a record 5,656 homes in the UK first half and now expects to deliver around 100,000 for the full year, helping drive interim revenues up 11.6 per cent to an all-time high of £1.7 billion.

The Newcastle upon Tyne-based group reported a 4% fall in pre-tax profits to £280.2m for the six months to January 31, though earnings edged 0.2% higher at £297.7m.

It resumed dividends to shareholders with a 35p a share interim pay-out and hailed “strong” underlying homebuyer demand.

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Bellway said it bought four sites in Scotland, including a 400 unit scheme at Ruchill Hospital in Glasgow and the Tullis Russell Park Mill, Glenrothes, Fife for 145 units in the period.

The group also said the extra £20.3m set aside brings its total since 2017 for fire safety in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy to £131.6m.

The company said the cladding charges are a “substantial sum which demonstrates Bellway’s responsible approach to supporting customers with regards to this issue”.

HeraldScotland: BELLWAY PLC: London Stock Exchange.BELLWAY PLC: London Stock Exchange.

It added: “The legal responsibility for ensuring fire safety in buildings usually rests with the current owners or their managing agents, which in most cases for our legacy portfolio is not Bellway.

“As a responsible developer however, Bellway takes apartment safety concerns seriously and has therefore established a fire remediation team to work with building owners to help resolve historical issues.”

MPs have come under fire after they voted down a proposal from the House of Lords to prevent remedial costs for work, such as the removal of unsafe cladding from blocks of flats, being passed to leaseholders and tenants.

The vote on Tuesday has led to ministers being accused of “abandoning” hundreds of thousands of leaseholders and tenants over who foots the bill for key fire safety improvements post-Grenfell.

Bellway’s cladding charges follow a raft from other housebuilders in recent weeks as the cost of the works ramps up.

The group’s results show house prices rose 5.8% on average to £303,206 in its first half.

Its forward order book stood at 6,028 homes worth £1.6bn on March 14, up 8.4% on a year earlier.

Bellway said in light of its order book, it now expects full-year average selling prices to be more than £295,000.

The housebuilding sector has been boosted by a raft of government incentives, such as Help to Buy and most recently the stamp duty holiday to help the market during the pandemic.

There was a series of measures also announced in this month’s Budget that will give the property market a further fillip, including the extension of the stamp duty holiday north of the Border to June.

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David Kimberley, Freetrade analyst, said the end of such benefits could have an impact on the sector.

“It’s another bumper set of results for Bellway this morning, with record revenue and the return of an interim dividend both sure to please shareholders,” he said.

“The short term outlook is also positive.

“A relatively large forward order book and impressively low levels of debt both set up Bellway to perform well in the next 12 months.

“But what may worry investors is the coming conclusion of the stamp duty holiday and changes to Help to Buy legislation.

“Bellway’s forward order book may ease some nerves here but there will still be some anxious shareholders waiting to see how things pan out after June 30.”

He also said: “The same is true of Help to Buy. We shouldn’t forget that more than half of Bellway buyers were using the scheme at one point last year.

“True, the housebuilder has taken steps to mitigate the impact of any changes but it remains to be seen if it will be enough.”

Shares in Bellway closed down 2.26% at 3,413p.