National insurance contributions are made by employees and employers based on wage earnings. The money is taken from employee wages by the employer, and is sent to HMRC. It is used to cover the cost of state benefits such as illness and unemployment benefit, as well as the state pension. You may need to have a record of paying contributions for a number of years to avail of some of these benefits. People who are unemployed may be eligible to claim National Insurance Contribution credits, which allow them to maintain their contributions record while they are not working. If a person has a gap in their contributions, they may pay contributions to fill that gap, generally to allow them to be eligible to receive the state pension.