The facts about Additional Voluntary Contributions
* You can put up to 9 per cent of your annual earnings into AVCs with full tax relief.
* You can use your contributions to top up your pension to the maximum the Inland Revenue allows - particularly useful for those who entered teaching late or who have taken a career break to bring up children.
* You can also use your contributions to increase the lump sum your dependants will receive if you die, up to four times your earnings, and your widow's or widower's pension up to two-thirds of your own.
* In-house AVCs, like the Prudential scheme for teachers, are generally far better value than "free-standing" AVCs which allow you to select your own AVC provider. While the Prudential AVC scheme makes low charges - 1 per cent for the with-profits fund - "free-standing" AVCs could cost you 20 per cent of your investment in expenses and commission.
* Make sure you don't overfund your pension. There are Inland Revenue limits on the pension you may receive at retirement. Generally, the maximum benefits allowed are equivalent to what you would receive from the Teachers' Superannuation Scheme at the age of 60 after 40 years' service.