When I worked in government, ‘Northern Powerhouse’ was a phrase so ubiquitous in conversation that foreign visitors could have been forgiven for thinking it might be a strange sort of English greeting.

Once Mrs May became PM and promptly ejected Mr Osborne, the slogan became less popular, but expect to hear it return with force this week when the Conservatives descend on Manchester for their annual party conference. The Chancellor, Philip Hammond, will today announce an extra £300m for rail projects in the north.

This is to be welcomed. The problem, though, is that some regions of the country will be ignored, like the ugly friend at a party: chief amongst them, ironically, our beautiful coastal towns.

They were once jewels in our island’s crown. The first resorts opened in the eighteenth century for the aristocracy, including Scarborough and Brighton. Queen Victoria adored the Isle of Wight and Jane Austed penned an unfinished novel (‘Sandition’) lauding the beauty of such havens of tranquillity.

It was the railways in the nineteenth century, though, which transformed these places, giving the working class a way to feel the soft sand between their toes and gaze at the vast blue sky above. Blackpool, Bournemouth, Bridlington and tens of others exploded as thriving hubs of commerce, tourism and joy.

But the 1960s heralded a sudden and sad end to all this: changes in what it meant to be ‘aspirational’ and the arrival of low cost flights to Europe pulled the shutters down on the nation’s ice cream huts.

Fifty years on, things have not improved. According to the Social Market Foundation, coastal communities have the lowest pay and fewest jobs in the country. In 83 out of the 98 coastal local authorities, people earned less than the national average. This equates to about £3,600 less per worker.  Economic output per worker was 26% lower in coastal communities than the rest of the country in 2015 and six of the top ten local authorities for unemployment are seaside towns.

This is having serious social consequences. In 2015, SchoolDash, an organisation which analyses education data, found that pupils in coastal towns achieve significantly lower results than their colleagues inland. Those by the seaside are also much more likely to be prescribed anti-depressants than those in the rest of the country, with Blackpool, Sunderland and East Lindsey seeing rates almost twice the national average.

Depressed, deprived and detached, we should be doing better. These are places with a lot going for them: gorgeous beaches, affordable houses and kind people.

In fact, I recently caught the train from London, where I now live, to Bournemouth, where I grew up, and the friendliness of fellow passengers increased notably throughout the journey. Typing on my laptop and with headphones in, I overheard a dad tell his daughter “don’t speak to him kiddo, he’s one of those London types.”

Some solutions are simple. First, the government should launch a massive publicity campaign both at home and abroad. Did you know that Suitcase Magazine, a leading travel publication, recently declared Rhossilli Bay in Wales to be one of the top ten beaches in the world? Or that you can visit the Jurassic Coast in Dorset and observe 185 million years of rock formation? Or that Brighton does the best single ‘sex on the beach’ cocktail (pun intended) that I have ever tasted in my life? This would not cost very much, and almost certainly pay for itself in increased taxes from tourism spending.

Second, coastal towns should be supported to work with big, innovative companies to find their economic niche. Bournemouth has thrived in partnership with J.P. Morgan, jobs that should be vigorously guarded against possible post-Brexit relocation. Google, the tech giant, earlier this year announced that it is sending teams on a tour of coastal towns to help teach those in tourism how to use the internet for their business. Given that up to 20% of people in these communities have never been online, this could be revolutionary.

Third, let’s move Visit Britain, the government’s tourist authority, to one of the seaside towns. There’s no need for all of their employees to be located in Whitehall. Maybe it’s time some of them got some fresh air with a new office in Aberystwyth or Brighton or Clacton. There is a lot of talk of moving some government apparatus to Manchester, so why not some to the seaside too?

Finally, the government should work with coastal towns to launch new projects. This work has begun in earnest, with a 5G pilot in Bournemouth. We need more of this. What about the NHS launching new models of care for the elderly in somewhere by the sea, given that many such towns are struggling with one in three residents being over 65? Or the Department for Transport could test new driverless technology in the south-west, part of the country horrendously under served by existing road infrastructure.

So yes. I’m all for the Northern Powerhouse. But I also want to Save Our Seaside. Maybe ‘SOS’ is the next Whitehall craze, I hope so.

Benjamin Clayton is a Fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He was previously Chief of Staff at the British Government’s National Infrastructure Commission.