Leading Article: Confusion is always the enemy of thrift

THERE IS a strain of madness in the British which encourages camping overnight to be the first in the Harrods sale or queuing for three days to secure tickets to Wimbledon. People seem to enjoy the feeling that their lives will not be complete without a cut-price doily holder or ticket to see the latest British hopeful get thrashed.

The hysteria surrounding the end of PEPs (personal equity plans) and Tessas (tax exempt special savings accounts) is no different. Normally sane people have spent their Easter holidays rushing about desperately to secure them before they are abolished in favour of ISAs (individual savings accounts).

The customer is not always right. As our story on page 9 of the news section shows, most buyers have little idea of the differences between the old and new schemes. Even professionals find the new one complicated. Tory governments were happy to publicise PEPs and Tessas. The Labour Government should have been swifter in advertising the benefits of ISAs and calming the public over the issue.

Confusion discourages saving. The Government has made a mistake abolishing a workable system. It will be some time before people feel confident about the new one.