Additional voluntary contributions (AVCs)

An AVC is an arrangement that allows you to build up pension benefits with a separate AVC provider alongside your LGPS pension.


expand_circle_down Back to Contents

What is an AVC?

An AVC is an arrangement that allows you to build up pension benefits with a separate AVC provider alongside your LGPS pension.  

It’s a separate pot of money and isn’t part of your main LGPS pension. You can pay into an AVC if you’re in the main or 50/50 section of the LGPS. 

In some circumstances, your employer may help you with contributions via a Shared Cost AVC.

How does an AVC work?

Your pension fund uses an independent AVC provider (usually a bank, building society or insurance company) that invests your extra pension and manages it for you.

Here’s how it works: 

Apply for an AVC by contacting your fund’s provider and decide how much you want to pay
Your additional contributions are taken directly from your salary
Your employer pays your AVC to your AVC provider
Your AVC is invested
Your AVC provider will send you annual statements so you know how much your AVC is worth.
When you retire, you can take your AVC as a tax-free cash lump sum, put it towards your retirement income or take a combination of both.

Get extra life cover

If you die while still paying into the LGPS, your loved ones will get a tax-free lump sum of three times your assumed pensionable pay You can use your AVC to increase this benefit and provide extra life cover for your dependents. Just be aware that this cover stops when you retire or leave the scheme. 

How much can I pay?

You can choose to pay a fixed amount or a percentage of your salary (or both) into an AVC – as long as it does not exceed 100% of your pay.  

If you pay tax, you will get tax relief on the additional contributions you make. 

Please note

AVCs count towards the maximum pension you can build up tax-free in a year. Most people will not exceed this limit but those that do will need to pay a tax charge. See our website for more details on annual allowance. 

Changing or stopping contributions

You can change or stop your additional contributions at any time while paying into your main LGPS pension. 

How do I apply?

To apply for an AVC, please contact the provider for your fund as listed below. You may need your pension membership number, which you’ll find on the My pension summary page of PensionPoint.

FundAVC Provider
Clerical Medical (closed to new members) 
Utmost (closed to new members) 
CumbriaPrudential/Utmost (EL)/Scottish Widows/Standard Life 
EalingScottish Widows/Utmost 
Hammersmith & FulhamScottish Widows
HaveringPrudential/Standard Life
HertfordshireStandard Life (see notes below this table)
Utmost (closed to new members) 
(AVC guides available on the Hertfordshire website here)
London Pensions Fund AuthorityPrudential 
NewhamClerical Medical 
Utmost (closed to new members)  

To contact Standard Life, please call: 0845 60 60 047. You can also get general information about Standard Life and their Group AVC plan by visiting and entering the username LGPS.

Visit your provider’s website:

When can I take out my AVC?

Just like your main LGPS pension, you can access your AVC any time from the age of 55 or leave it (defer) until you’re aged 75. However, if you were a member of the LGPS after 31 March 2014, you must take your AVC at the same time as your main scheme benefits (unless you take flexible retirement).

Flexible retirement

Flexible retirement allows you to take some or all of your pension while still working. If you started paying into an AVC after 13 November 2001, you can leave your AVC in place after taking out your main LGPS pension. This allows you to save more money for when you stop working. 

If you started paying into an AVC before 13 November 2001, you must take out your AVC and main LGPS pension at the same time.

Defer up to age 75

If you left the LGPS before 1 April 2014 and want to save more towards your retirement, you can choose not to take your AVC when you take your main LGPS benefits. You can leave your AVC invested (defer) and take it later but you must take it by age 75. Just remember that deferring your AVC limits some of the options that will be available to you when you do take it.

What can I do with my AVC when I retire?

When deciding how to use your AVC in retirement, there are a range of options to choose from:

Getting guidance

Deciding what to do with your AVC is an important financial decision. The LGPS recommends that you get financial guidance from Pension Wise – a free, government service from MoneyHelper that offer impartial advice to help you understand your AVC options.

Please note

Your pension fund cannot complete your application until you tell them you have either received guidance from Pension Wise or you do not wish to take it. This is a legal requirement.

Book a Pension Wise appointment online or visit their website to see other types of appointments you can book. You can also ask your pension fund to book an appointment for you.

See how AVCs have helped our members

Find out how paying into an AVC has helped some of our members boost their retirement savings.

More guidance

See more information about AVCs on the LGPS website.

If you need help finding independent financial advice, here are some places to start:

Help Hub

Find all the support you need in one place

Visit Help Hub Help Hub

News Hub

Find all your pension related news in one place

Visit News Hub News Hub