Brown gets birthday gift. By Dawn Smith

Gordon Brown, who celebrated his birthday this week, will be raising a glass to the latest public finance figures, which show the public sector current budget was in surplus by £15.3 billion last month (£3 billion higher than January last year), while net lending was £12.6 billion (up from £8.8 billion in January 2005).

The perky January figures, released on Monday by the National Statistics Office, mean that for the financial year to date, the public sector current budget is in deficit by £7.8 billion, and public sector net borrowing stands at £29.8 billion.

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