You’ve had a year of respite, but now the excuses must stop. From tomorrow, the government’s shake-up of the construction industry tax scheme (CIS) comes into force – after much heated debate, a few tears and a whole lot of confusion.

The executive summary is that CIS is shifting online and the way a worker’s tax status is decided will be simplified. Oh, and if you fail to comply or simply fill in the forms incorrectly, you could be looking at £3,000 in fines.

A year ago the Construction Confederation stood up to the government and demanded that the change be put back a year on the entirely reasonable grounds that the Revenue had not arranged for firms to have software they needed. After only a month or so of wrangling, the Revenue saw the force of this objection and a 12-month postponement ensued. So now, we’re back where we started, the only real difference being that the IT for the scheme is now ready to go and that your company is poised to embrace the change – isn’t it? After all, with all the hours you’ve spent studying the implications of the revised CDM regulations – which are also about to come into force – the changes to the CIS should prove a doddle …

If only it was that simple. The chaos, warns the confederation, will begin on 6 May when firms send in their monthly returns. Tax experts point out that the new CIS is unforgiving of clerical errors, and that many firms will struggle to comply with it. But by now most of these firms will at least know that the change is happening. Reassuringly, there’s a six-month period of leniency on fines, but firms should still avoid the obvious mistake of not changing the rate of income tax on the new forms from 18% to 20% as announced in the Budget.

So if you’re still not au fait with the systems, now is the time to swat up. In six months’ time, you’ll be on your own, and it may hit you in the pocket.

As if we needed reminding ...

This week brought the grim news that yet another crane accident had resulted in the death of a construction worker. The incident underlines once again the urgency of Building’s Safer Skyline campaign, which is calling for a public register detailing maintenance checks on tower cranes, and which has gained the support of 64 MPs. So far the campaign has highlighted the consequences of a crane collapse on those at the sharp end, and its effect on the public image of the industry. Whatever the ensuing Health and Safety Executive investigation concludes in this latest case, the message for all involved in the leasing and operation of cranes remains that action and improvement have to be taken, and fast. Bovis Lend Lease leads by example this week by spelling out that it has a policy not to use cranes that are more than a decade old. Now it’s time for other companies to follow suit. Email your support for Safer Skylines to