IEG4 is a Microsoft solution partner that provides solutions for online processing of Housing Benefit claims that enable local authorities to eliminate the cost of printing claim forms and, in the case of Trafford Council for example, reduce the time it takes to process a housing benefits claim from 24 days to 5 days—an 80 percent reduction.

IEG4 determined that it could speed implementations and reduce costs for local authorities by adopting a hosted-services model. IEG4 bases its forms on Microsoft products and technologies, so it decided to host its applications using Windows Azure.  Access is via https, secured by SSL certificate, giving secure communications.  And, 'Save for later' forms are stored, encrypted, on a UK based server.

The system also accommodates citizens who don’t have Internet access or are unable to visit a council office. In such cases, council staff members visit the individuals’ residences and gather data in-person. Staff members use laptop or tablet PCs that contain a local version of the form and an encrypted database. Once connected to the network, data is sent to Windows Azure for processing.

By using Windows Azure, IEG4 can deploy forms and help authorities enhance efficiency much faster than before.  According to Paul Tomlinson, CEO of IEG4, "We often had to wait for IT infrastructure to be put in place, which could delay us by months when implementing our software in councils’ data centres. By using Windows Azure, we can deploy a form in less than one week.

You can read the full story here and experience the IEG4 Microsoft cloud-based housing benefits claims process here.