Meet the Fellow: Ben Henshall, Number 10
Reported by Jessica Foster, CSaP Communications Coordinator
A CSaP Policy Fellow from Number 10, says he wants to engage with researchers and give academia “a chance again” during a visit to the University of Cambridge.
Ben Henshall, Head of Analysis at 10 Downing Street, met with several academics in November 2021 for the first time as part of the CSaP Policy Fellowship scheme.
The two-year programme creates opportunities for public policy professionals and researchers to meet and share expertise with one another to help improve decision-making.
During his first visit to Cambridge as a CSaP Policy Fellow, Henshall says:
“It’s been great… being able to link up with that person and make sure they actually have that influence of policy at the crucial stage.”
In just two days, he connected academics in Cambridge with other public policy professionals across different departments, who he says are working to "make the UK better" too.
"It's the meetings you least expect to be useful, that'll be the most useful. And I think you can kind of come up with a good reason for that, right? Because they're the sorts of people that you've put on the schedule, because they're interesting to meet, no matter what," says Henshall.
Henshall runs the data science team within Number 10, working to give the Prime Minister the best advice on quantitative policy issues with the Policy Unit.
Speaking to CSaP on day two of his visit, Henshall admits he did not have the best experience engaging with academics at the start of his policy career, but came away “beaming” after meeting three academics on spatial data in Cambridge.
As Head of Analysis at Number 10, Henshall co-founded the data science unit which exists to facilitate the use of analysis and evidence in key policy decisions.
He spent most of 2020 leading on COVID-19 analysis and has previously led teams on a broad range of areas, including housing and EU Exit.