The Concise Oxford Dictionary (again) Consult: see information or advice from; refer to a person for advice, opinion etc; see permission or approval from/for a proposed action; take into account, consider feelings/interests.
So George Osborne is to consult with the public over cuts and where they should happen, according to this and this. On the basis that this exercise will be no more 'consultation' than the shams that passed as such under the last government, Nigel Lawson is probably nearer the mark when he describes it as a PR ploy.
Can it be anything but a PR ploy when remembering that, at the end of the day, it will be the 'Star Chamber' that makes the final decision? And who controls the Star Chamber?*
* No, don't ask - but here's a clue: ClamerlamerLegg
** Needless to say, Gerald Warner says it so much better!