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Pension pickle

I was in the Teachers' Pension Scheme from 1998-2002. For three of these years I paid an additional 5 per cent AVCs to the Prudential. In 2003, I started work for the local authority and was moved to the Soulbury pay scale and into the local government pension scheme (LGPS). I haven't paid any AVCs. Recently, I received information which said I can ask that my contributions to the TPS be added into my LGPS, by November 1. Is this correct? Can I amalgamate the two pensions and is it prudent? What are the proscons? Would you pay the maximum AVCs into the LGPS?

You need to seek expert advice: start with your professional association where a pension expert can answer your questions. When you change jobs, it's possible to transfer existing contributions into the new scheme. It is only worth transferring benefits from one to another if there is no diminution in their value, that is, the new scheme has benefits equal to or better than the one you are transferring from. The TPS is backed by the Government; local authorities operate funded schemes in a similar fashion to the private sector, placing the contributions into an investment portfolio and paying pensioners out of the fund. AVCs are useful if you think you will have a break in your career as they can help make up for missing years.

If you have a question for John Howson, please email susan.young@tes.co.uk

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