Have just had another call with a Partner from a public sector practice and the reluctance to commit certainly makes sense in light of his comments. Essentially all their key contacts currently have a moratorium on consulting spend and where meetings are being scheduled they are taking place "off site" as being seen with consultants is not considered good form at present.
The guessing game was restated as being trying to fathom out when the government will come to the realisation that savings programmes will not be delivered without the engagement of consulting firms. So September / October is being pencilled as the earliest time for a pick-up in activity - by which time of course some firms may have scaled back their capacity to serve any revival in demand...
Personally I'd be inclined to take advantage of the circumstances to take a sabbatical, before things go haywire at some point later in the year / early 2011!